Guy Joseph cites constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion

Following is a letter from Mr. Guy Joseph, MP for Castries South-East, addressed yesterday to the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission:

“Dear Ms. Combie Martyr: The Constitution of St. Lucia in its very first chapter, ‘Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms’ 9 (1), gives every citizen of Saint Lucia Protection of Freedom of Conscience in the following terms: A person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his or her freedom of conscience, including freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his or her religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his or her religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.

“There has been a long held recognition in Saint Lucia of the observance of the Sabbath of Seventh-Day Adventist and Church of God congregants as being from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. This recognition of Saturday Sabbath keepers has historically been observed by employers, commercial entities and the general population. It would therefore be most unfortunate if the State forced any believer in either of these faiths to compromise their spiritual convictions to have to undertake the nomination process for an election on Saturday 28 May 2016.

Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph.

Castries South-East MP Guy Joseph.

“As the district representative for Castries South-East, I am desirous of being nominated to contest the election in the constituency of Castries South-East, currently scheduled for Saturday 28 May 2016. As a Seventh-day Adventist, the State would be imposing a burden on me to break my Sabbath for which I am offered protection under the Constitution. Furthermore, in keeping with the tradition of elections in Saint Lucia, my nominees and constituents will be denied the opportunity of accompanying me to the nomination.

“I am therefore requesting that the nomination process for the constituency of Castries South-East take place on Monday 30 May in keeping with both the letter and spirit of our Constitution and the required notice period of the Elections Act or alternately that the period for Nominations for Castries South-East be extended to 8.00 p.m. on Saturday 28th 2016. Further, I would have no objection to this arrangement being extended to any constituency where the nomination of a candidate on Saturday would compromise the religious doctrine of that candidate. I look forward to your early response to this matter.”

At press time the STAR was not in a position to confirm whether Mr. Joseph had received a response from the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission.

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