St. Vincent-born calypsonian, Lornette “Fya Empress” Nedd-Reid, must be allowed to perform in the finals of the Trinidad and Tobago Calypso Monarch competition on Sunday although she is not a citizen of that country, a court in the twin-island republic ruled Thursday night.
Fire Empress was among the finalists announced last week, but was kicked out of the finals on Tuesday after Lynette “Lady Gypsy” Steele, who was initially selected as a reserve, noted that Fire Empress is not a Trinidad and Tobago citizen and threatened to sue if she is allowed to compete.
The Trinbago Unified Calypsonians’ Organisation (TUCO) rulebook says that the competition is opened to Trinidad and Tobago nationals.
TUCO, of which Fire Empress has been a member for a decade, then eliminated her from the finals and included Gypsy.
But Fire Empress went to court and Justice Frank Seepersad on Thursday ordered that she be allowed to compete in the finals.
The judge said that although TUCO competition rules state that a participant must be a citizen of Trinidad and TObago over the age of 16, TUCO was aware that Fire Empress was born in St Vincent and raised no objection about her performing at their shows.
The judge said the Vincentian artiste had also previously performed at several of TUCOs’s competitions.
Therefore, when the court considers the claimant’s case at its highest, it is possible that the court at the trial could conclude that Fire Empress had a legitimate expectation to perform at the competition and TUCO had waived its rule not to allow foreigners to perform in the competition.
On Wednesday, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Wednesday said it is “dismayed” at the Fire Empress’ disqualification.
The government said the disqualification could be challenged on several grounds, including the fact that the artiste, as a member of TUCO, has been allowed to participate through the preliminaries to the semi-finals of the competition as well as other previous competitions and there is a reasonable expectation that she can go all the way.
The government also noted that Fire empress is married to a national of Trinidad and Tobago.
The government further said that Fire Empress is protected under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) not to be discriminated on the grounds of nationality. Article 7 of the RTC articulates, “Within the scope of application of this Treaty and without prejudice to any special provisions contained therein, any discrimination on grounds of nationality only shall be prohibited.”