– says process will take longer
Government has reversed the controversial requirements, which mandated applicants to submit a recently issued birth certificate in order to acquire a machine-readable passport.
Last month, the Ministry of Home Affairs announced a new requirement mandating first time applicants to present a birth certificate that was obtained no more than six months prior to the date of application.
The Ministry of Home Affairs had outlined that the requirement was for integrity purposes. It said “this process is necessary to enable Guyana to comply with international best practices and prevent illegal use of travel documents.”
The new policy, however, sparked public outrage and one applicant moved to the courts to have the policy reversed.
Attorney-at-Law, Saphier Husain-Subedar, in a court action last month described the requirement as not legal and “unconstitutional.”
He, too, like many others had been turned down and asked to apply for a new birth certificate that had not been issued beyond six months
Chief Justice (Ag), Ian Chang later made a ruling which commanded the Chief Immigration Officer/ Commissioner of Police, Seelall Persaud, his agent, servant and subordinate officers to accept Husain’s birth certificate, which was issued on January 22, 2004, and consider his application for an electronic machine readable passport.
The Commissioner of Police was further ordered to pay the applicant costs in the sum of $15,000.
The Ministry of Home Affairs then announced that it had shifted the six months birth certificate requirement to two years.
However, the policy continued to attract criticisms.
On Wednesday, businessman Gainlal Sookraj opted to take Top Cop, Seelall Persaud to court over the new requirement.
With yet another court case looming, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a statement yesterday outlining that persons applying for passports are required to submit a passport application form, birth certificate, one (1) passport-size photograph and a fee of $4000.
The advisory made specific reference to previous press statements issued on June 5 and July 16 in relation to the birth certificate requirements to acquire passports.
“With the introduction of the machine-readable passport system, there was a requirement by the Ministry that the Guyana Police Force would implement an arrangement where members of the public applying for passports for the first time, would present to the Immigration Department birth certificates that were issued not more than six (6) months prior to the date of the application.”
“The intention was to guarantee the integrity of the newly implemented machine-readable passport system. Unfortunately this arrangement was not implemented by the Guyana Police Force, as required by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” the release stated.
The Ministry noted that it is cognizant of the concerns of members of the public, and therefore reviewed the entire system pertaining to the issuance of passports along with the Guyana Police Force.
“In relation to lost/damaged passport the processing fee is $15,000, and additional conditionalities are required to be satisfied to facilitate issuance.”
It was explained that given the need for a “more robust” verification process to accompany the production of the travel document, “the five (5) day processing time previously guaranteed by the Guyana Police Force is not likely to be honoured.”
The Ministry promised that the Guyana Police Force through its Immigration Department will make all reasonable efforts to expedite the processing of the applications.
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