St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN/CUOPM): Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas Thursday night in a national address announced the resignation of Senator Nigel Carty to facilitate the re-appointment of Jason Hamilton as Attorney General.
Dr. Douglas made the announcement following a ruling by a High Court Judge Thursday morning that Mr. Hamilton, who was first sworn in as Attorney General in January, should have been made a senator before the appointment.
“It is important to note that having four Senators, one of whom is Attorney General, is completely legal under our Constitution. Today, however, the Courts ruled that – procedurally, and I stress, procedurally – Mr. Hamilton should have, first, been named a Senator, and then be appointed Attorney General,” said Dr. Douglas.
He said Nigel Carty will then be reappointed as a Senator in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis, thereby making it possible for him to resume his responsibilities to the state in his capacity as Minister of Education and Information, Agriculture, Marine Resources and Cooperatives.
He said his Government aims at all times to adhere to the rules and guidelines of the Constitution, and so, following the Court’s ruling, moved, without delay, to ensure that the process which Mr. Hamilton was named Senator and Attorney General was corrected.
“Under our Constitution, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis must have an Attorney General. In order for Mr. Hamilton to properly serve in this capacity, therefore, he was today (Thursday) named a Senator in the National Assembly of St. Kitts and Nevis, the Honorable Nigel Carty having resigned as Senator in order to make this possible. In response to the points raised in today’s Court ruling, Senator Hamilton was then appointed our nation’s 5th post Independence Attorney General,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
“Today’s Court ruling gave our Government the opportunity to ensure full compliance with the procedural requirements of our Constitution. This we welcomed, and on this, we have acted,” Dr. Douglas said.
Meanwhile, the prime minister disclosed that Government decided to appeal the Court’s ruling based on the interpretation of Section 26 (2) of the Constitution which does not speak to a procedure. “On the present Court ruling, it is now being suggested that when His Excellency Delano Bart resigned as Senator and Attorney General in 2006, in order to have appointed Dr. Dennis Merchant as a Senator and Attorney General, another Senator/Minister would have had to resign at the same time, in order to make the appointment. This was not done and no one either inside or outside of government ever hinted that such a maneuver was either required or necessary,” Prime Minister Douglas pointed out.
He said the Government at the moment was still awaiting advice from the Legal Team on the clarification on the Senators (Increase of Number) Act 2013 as earlier there appeared to be some confusion on whether the judgment declared that the Act is unconstitutional and/or invalid. However, earlier Thursday afternoon, the court had sent out information affirming that the Act has been struck down by the Court as unconstitutional.
Justice John Benjamin Q.C., ruled Thursday that the appointment of Jason Hamilton as the Attorney General and as a fourth Senator in the National Assembly was null and void and of no effect, and his subsequent participation in the vote on the Bill was deemed unlawful.
***UPDATE*** Nigel Carty was sworn back in as a Senator in the National Assembly at 9:00 a.m. Friday morning.