Democracy Wins Again; Natta Trounces Harris Government In Court!

Justice and democracy have once again triumphed in St. Kitts-Nevis when on Monday, March 25, 2019, it was declared that young Leon Natta had won his lawsuit against the Dr Timothy Harris-led administration.

In October 2018, Natta filed the lawsuit against the Harris administration after the Public Service Commission had suspended him from his duties as an Accountant in the St. Kitts-Nevis Customs and Excise Department on what was said to be his perceived political involvement with the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party.

Natta’s alleged political involvement with the SKNLP at that time was said to be in breach of the Public Service (Conduct and Ethics of Officers) which states “a) A public officer shall not engage in party political activity at any time including holding office or taking an active part in any political organization and d) canvassing in support for any political party or candidate…”

Natta submitted a legal challenge in the courts, specifically a motion challenging the constitutionality of the standing rule. Natta’s attorney, Sylvester Anthony, argued that sections 36 and 38 of the Public Service Code are “unconstitutional” due to the fact that they contradict sections 3(b), 12, and 13 of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis, and therefore infringe upon his client’s fundamental rights.

His Honour Justice Eddy Ventose delivered his judgement on the matter on Monday, March 25, 2019, and Natta emerged victoriously. Justice Ventose’s judgement surmised that sections 36 and 38 of the Public Service Code that was challenged by Natta were indeed in direct contradiction to sections 3(b), 12, and 13 of the Constitution and therefore in violation of Natta’s fundamental rights as a citizen of St. Kitts and Nevis.

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Sections 3(b), 12, and 13 of the Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis state:

3.Fundamental rights and freedoms.

Whereas every person in Saint Christopher and Nevis is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms, that is to say, the right, whatever his or her race, place of origin, birth, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely,
(b) freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association;

12.Protection of freedom of expression.

(1)Except with his or her own consent, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference (whether the communication is to the public generally or to any person or class of persons) and freedom from interference with his or her correspondence.
(2)Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision
(a)that is reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;
(b)that is reasonably required for the purpose of protecting the reputations, rights and freedoms of other persons or the private lives of persons concerned in legal proceedings, preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of the courts or regulating telephony, telegraphy, posts, wireless broadcasting or television; or
(c)that imposes restrictions upon public officers that are reasonably required for the proper performance of their functions, and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

13.Protection of freedom of assembly and association.

(1)Except with his or her own consent, a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of assembly and association, that is to say, his or her right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his or her interests or to form or belong to political parties or other political associations.
(2)Nothing contained in or done under the authority of any law shall be held to be inconsistent with or in contravention of this section to the extent that the law in question makes provision
(a)that is reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;
(b)that is reasonably required for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons; or
(c)that imposes restrictions upon public officers that are reasonably required for the proper performance of their functions, and except so far as that provision or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.

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