Monday, May 19, 2008

"Declaration" Not "Determination"

Both the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the House of Representatives have conveniently confused calls for declaration of citizenship status by Members of either House with the determination of questions as to membership of either House. The Chief Justice of Jamaica has determined that individuals who have renewed their US passports and travelled thereon are disqualified from being validly elected or appointed as a Member of either House.

Proponents of the impotence of the Speaker, in the matter of requiring a declaration by individual members, have sought to rely on Section 44 (1) of the Constitution which states:
Any question whether -

a. any person has been validly elected or appointed as a member of either House;

or

b. any member of either House has vacated his seat therein or is required, under the provisions of subsection (3) or subsection (4) of section 41 of this Constitution, to cease to exercise any of his functions as a member, shall be determined by the Supreme Court or, on appeal, by the Court of Appeal whose decision shall be final, in accordance with the provisions of any law for the time being in force in Jamaica and, subject to any such law, in accordance with any directions given in that behalf by the Chief Justice.

This section speaks specifically to which courts are to be involved in the determination of questions as to membership. In the Dabdoub/Vaz et al case the Supreme Court presided over by the Chief Justice made a specific ruling.

Both the Prime Minister and the Speaker cannot ignore that ruling and are obliged to apply such ruling to the Members of both Houses. This they have failed to do. So far as we are aware, it is only the Member for Western Portland who has sought to abide (in part) by the determinations made by the Honourable Chief Justice.

So far as we are aware, the calls for the declaration of the citizenship status of Members of either House have not sought to oust the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeal on the challenges being made to the validity of elected or appointed Members.

In light of the heightened interest in divided allegiance of the legislature, full disclosure of citizenship status is appropriate and ought to be deemed to be in the “national interest”. Secrecy is diametrically opposed to transparency and facilitates doubt as to integrity.

The legitimacy of parliament must never be open to serious question and nothing should be done by those sworn to uphold the constitution which could be interpreted as a conspiracy in furtherance of the breach of the provisions of the said constitution.

To quote the much-maligned Daryl Vaz, “law makers must not be law breakers.”

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Everyone who has contributed to the dual citizenship controversy has only so far examined and criticised the law re the MP's It would be interesting to find out if the Attorney General status is in sync with the law .

Anonymous said...

There is talk of the possibility of a negotiated settlement on this issue of dual nationality between the Government and Opposition. If this is accurate would these talks have any useful purpose in light of the recent ruling which merely reaffirms the constitutional position?

Dr. Paul said...

Have a look at Why a General under the caption Election by Conspiracy.