The opposition United Progressive Party (UPP) has expressed “serious concern” in light of recent statements attributed to Prime Minister Gaston Browne in relation to Mehul Choksi, a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda.
Choksi, who is facing extradition to India by way of the normal legal and constitutional process, alleges that he was abducted and taken against his will to Dominica.
However, “in a shocking statement on the matter, Prime Minister Browne indicated that the Government of Dominica should deport Mr Choksi directly to India and not return him to Antigua and Barbuda because he would be protected by the Constitution here,” the UPP said in a recent press release.
“This statement is both irresponsible and frightening. It is not for the Prime Minister to decide who is entitled to the protection of the Constitution. We are a nation of laws: Every citizen of Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to due process and the rule of law must be respected by all.”
The UPP pointed out that it was the Gaston Browne Administration that granted citizenship to Choksi, and that under Section 9 of the India Citizenship Act, once a citizen of India accepts citizenship of another country, his Indian citizenship is automatically cancelled.
“The alleged abduction and beating of Mr Choksi already paint an unflattering picture of the country, and Prime Minister Browne’s deliberate attempt to subvert and corrupt the rule of law makes us look even worse. The United Progressive Party condemns the Prime Minister’s statement and calls on him to respect the constitutional rights of all citizens and desist from wild and ill-considered utterances,” the release added.