Attorney-General of St Kitts and Nevis, Vincent Byron Jr on Tuesday night announced that he has prepared legislation for tabling that will enhance the fundamental right of all citizens to freedom of expression and association. This, he explained, in an effort to address Public Service Act 2014 Codes 36 and 38 which the High Court has ruled unconstitutional.
The High Court in St Kitts recently delivered a ruling on a motion brought by Leon Natta Nelson which challenged the constitutionality of the Public Service Act Statutory Rules 36 and 38 which prohibit civil servants from participating in political activity, holding office in a political organization and contesting a general election.
AG Byron speaking at a Team Unity Town Hall meeting on Tuesday:
“We have accepted the court’s decision that it means that no one should be prevented from carry out their fundamental rights that are set out in the constitution; so what do you do? The court however recognizes that there could be and should be a limit to how that activity should be. If you are say a messenger or a clerk that does not have to be involved in decision-making and have sensitive information, the law should be able to allow you to participate openly in political activity; but the court does recognize, the law would recognize that certain classes of public servants should be and can be limited in what they can do.
“So if you are a Permanent Secretary, Director or important or senior public servant, those categories of public servants should be limited, and so what this government will do over the next few weeks is to establish categories of senior public servants in which we will limit their political activities.
“We will determine that if they want to participate, they should do so properly, they should not be having access to private and confidential government information of a minister and then go on a platform to talk about it and it doesn’t make sense and the constitution grants us that flexibility, and so over the next few weeks we’ll be doing so.”
Attorney General Byron explained that in 2014 the then SKNLP Administration introduced a code of conduct and ethics establishing how public servants should operate.