BASSETERRE, ST KITTS – Opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party legislator, Sen. the Hon Nigel Carty is again speaking out on what he says “is the blatant at the dismantling of the democratic framework” in the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis.
Accusing the Timothy-Harris-led PLP/CCM/PAM government of attacking the Parliament and the Judiciary or the Court, Carty said it has introduced “full-scale fascism” in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The Court is supposed to be an independent arbiter where persons – whether big or small – can have access to the court on any matter. The Executive is appointed by the Governor General from members of the Parliament where the Speaker is an unbiased arbiter of the proceedings,” said Carty, a former Minister of Education and Information.
He told listeners to Freedom FM Issues programme on Wednesday that having sat in the Labour Cabinet with now Prime Minister, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris for 8 years; he got to know him very well.
“Immediately as he took office as the leader of the government (as Prime Minister in February 2015) I began to see unfolding what so many people in this organisation had feared for a long time,” he said.
“Over the last 18 months everything has become purely politics – a politics of corruption and a politics of self enrichment of those who are in government and those who are close to the members of the government,” citing a number of events that has caused serious concern and consternation in the Federation.
He said the position of prime minister was hijacked by one person from a party (PLP), which has one elected member while the other two parties – the Peoples Action Movement (PAM) has four seats and the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) has two seats.
“The reason we have all the challenges that we are having now and the reason that he (Prime Minister Harris) is under attack by his colleagues in government is because Timothy Harris as one man from one party and in a cabinet has really no mandate or interest in looking after anybody else except himself and his who family,” said Carty.
He said when one examines what is happening in the Parliament it is clear why the last Speaker Mr. Franklin Brand resigned from the post after just 11 months on the job, one month short of getting a pension for the rest of his life.
“He rejected that and stepped down, I believe because of a basic principal that there is a government in office which was trying to control the Speaker – a Speaker who was trying to be fair and balanced and who was trying to bring his own independence as a businessman, person, intelligence and intellect to bear on the control of the proceedings of Parliament. Before he resigned, several sittings of the parliament were presided over by the Deputy Speaker (Hon Michael Perkins), who was a senator and who sits on the government side and who should only be sitting in the Chair when the Speaker is unavailable,” said Carty.
With Mr Brand’s resignation in April, Mr Perkins was last week elected as the new Speaker.
“He has previously come under harsh criticism because of the way he operated as Deputy Speaker and who as the new Speaker continues to try to shut down members of the opposition, not even giving them as much as a minute or one word in the National Assembly, said Carty.
Carty is of the view that Perkins, as a senator for the past 12 years, “does not have the intellectual capacity or the moral compass to be able to deliver in his new role as Speaker of our National Assembly. And if you compare him to his predecessors it is like comparing chalk to cheese.”
Carty said the law Courts are the bastion in the constitutional, economic and social advancement in a country in the fairness of the justice system.
He said the people of St Kitts and Nevis have lost confidence in the Justice system in that while in opposition, the parties led by Timothy Harris were able to access the Court, “anytime they wanted to, for whatever reason, but as soon as they get into government has sought to undermine the institution of the court in all sorts of things and these are the ways the court system has been undermined.”
Carty noted the first attack on the Justice System was the removal of then Director of Public Prosecution Trinidadian Travers Sinanan, who was on contract. After attempts to remove him from his constitutional position, Mr. Sinanan filed suit against the government accusing it of usurping the powers of the Office of the DPP. On the day of the court hearing Prime Minister Harris turned up at court and the Attorney General Hon Vincent Byron Jar indicated the government wanted to settle the matter out of court. The matter was settled for a reported EC$1.2 million settlement. The exact sum is not known as the parties agreed to the keep the figure confidential.
“The DPP is an important intermediary between the Police and the Court and in matters to do with criminal investigation and criminal prosecution, the DPP is critically important in the process and so the DPP was ousted because he was seeking to investigate a matter which involved a minister of government in relation to corrupt land dealings and money laundering,” said Carty, who also touched on the resignation of the Resident High Court Judge, Her Ladyship Marlene Carter.
“We understand from other sources that much pressure has been brought to bear. That the sister who is the Registrar was undermining the office of the judge. We were made to understand that issues to do with security and availability to do with important things were deliberately downscaled so as to undermine the judge of the High Court,” said Carty.
“These are very serious matters. I am not too sure that our people understand what is happening but when you have a government which seeks to use the court as a weapon to achieve political power and having gotten there now seeks to emasculate and undermine the same court, the question that right thinking citizens have to ask, what really is the long-term agenda of this government,” asked Carty, who stated clearly that what St Kitts and Nevis now have is “full-scale fascism” where the court, its institutions, its officers and support staff are now under attack by a government” that should be doing everything to protect the independence and the fairness of our court.”