Chief Justice, Ian Chang, delivered a ruling yesterday quashing the decision of an immigration official which stipulates
that an applicant is required to produce a birth certificate issued within the last six months, before the application for an electronic machine readable passport could be processed and a passport is thereafter issued.
The applicant, Attorney- at-Law Saphier Husain-Subedar, had taken the Chief Immigration Officer/ Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud to court asking that the decision to refuse birth certificates older than six months be overturned.
Husain-Subedar, of Broom Hall, Mahaicony, East Coast Demerara, said that he has a birth certificate No.1 of Division/Centre 5, Mahaicony, and issued on January 22, 2004 in the name of Saphier Husain.
On March 8th, 2013, the lawyer said he adopted his grandfather’s name, “Subedar.”
Saphier Husain was admitted to practice in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in October 1986 and in Guyana in June 1987.
“I practiced with the name of Saphier Husain. In January 2013, I completed National Committee of Accreditation Exams in the Dominion of Canada and was awarded the N.C.A. Certificate in the name of Saphier Husain-Subedar.”
On June 18, Husain-Subedar said that he visited the Immigration Office in Camp Street, Georgetown with the required application form completed. He was in possession of a copy of the Deed Poll, a document showing his name change, his old Passport, issued on March 19, 2004 and all the other necessary requirements.
Husain-Subedar said that he presented the documents to Immigration Officer, Mr. Parris, “who rejected the application on the grounds that the birth certificate was not valid for said application, since it was issued in 2004/01/22 and not within the last six months.”
The lawyer said that he asked on what authority he was being rejected and the Immigration Officer replied that he was instructed by his senior officers to do so.
Husain-Subedar said that he decided to file the case after Immigration Officer, Mr. Parris refused to accept his birth certificate, as part of the new Passport application.
The Chief Justice granted an order directed at Commissioner Persaud, to show cause why a final court order should not be issued to quash the decision of the Immigration Officer.
Yesterday, Attorney- at- Law attached to the office of the Attorney General, Arianne Mc Lean made no objection to the order.
The ruling further commanded the Chief Immigration Officer, his agent, servant and subordinate officers and every one of them to accept the birth certificate No.1 of Division /Centre 5 Mahaicony, issued on January 22, 2004, and consider Husain’s application to issue an electronic machine readable passport to him.
It is further ordered that Chief Immigration Officer/ Commissioner of Police pay the applicant costs in the sum of $15,000.
In an invited comment, Husain-Subedar noted that the ruling clearly shows that the entire birth certificate requirement has no legal basis.
“It cannot be validated; there is nothing in the constitution to back it up.”
“I told the said Immigration Officer that his rejection is wrong in law, and that he violated my Constitutional right… to withhold freedom of movement as guaranteed under Article 148 of the Constitution of Guyana 1980 as amended i.e – the right to enter Guyana and the right to leave Guyana,” Husain-Subedar said.
He maintained that he was within the law given, that his birth certificate issued under the Registration of Births and Deaths Chapter 44:01 of the Laws of Guyana, cannot be invalidated except by law or an amendment of the constitution.
The new passport requirement came to the fore after the Ministry of Home Affairs outlined that for integrity purposes, it is now reinforcing its policy directive originally given to the Guyana Police Force. “This process is necessary to enable Guyana to comply with international best practices and prevent illegal use of travel documents.”
The Ministry had initially said that passport applicants must present a birth certificate which was issued within the last six months.
The Ministry thereafter, noted that there was an error in the original statement. As such “that with immediate effect applicants for passports and other travel documents will be required to present original birth certificates that were issued no less than two years prior to the date of submission of the applications, instead of six months.”
When contacted yesterday, an officer speaking on behalf of the Commissioner Seelall noted that “he could not comment at this point since he was not aware of the ruling.”
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