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Interesting legal issue in St Kitts/Nevis

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Editor: An interesting legal issue has arisen in the tiny state of St Kitts/Nevis, where lawyers have filed a suit in the courts to block the Attorney General from removing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) from office.{{more}}

The result of this issue is of interest not only to the OECS states, but the entire Caribbean, since under all the constitutions in the region the DPP is protected.

Media reports state that the AG Vincent Byron, brother of Sir Denis Byron, President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, personally went to the DPP’s office and ordered the DPP, Travers Sinanan, to vacate his office and hand over keys and cell phone, but he refused. Sinanan was also asked to remove from his government provided residence, but he is adamant.

The post of DPP is constitutionally entrenched and the Attorney General is not in a position to simply fire him. Section 81 of the Constitution states that the DPP can only be removed if a high powered tribunal, set up by the Governor General and the Chief Justice, makes a recommendation to the Judicial and Legal Services Commission after carrying out a proper inquiry. It is a rather cumbersome procedure, which will take several months, if not a year.

The reason why the AG wants the DPP to be removed is not known, but reports state that he wants him to be replaced by someone of the government’s choosing. Sinanan was appointed by the previous administration, led by Denzil Douglas.

Governments usually appoint persons who are sympathetic or supporting the administration as DPP, because it is extremely difficult to challenge their decisions.

Here in St Vincent and the Grenandines, the DPP Colin Williams has come in for criticism from supporters of the Opposition for failing to take action against some people and what some may consider drastic moves against others.

In the James Mitchell administration, the government did not appoint a substantive DPP when Carl Joseph, a supporter, took up an appointment with the Caribbean Justice Improvement Project. As Solicitor General, I was asked to act as DPP for the three years, in addition to my substantive position.

Oscar Ramjeet

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