Colombian dentist moves to High Court after home ministry refuses to further extend stay

A Colombian dentist who has been living and working in Guyana for the past five years has moved to the High Court to challenge a Ministry of Home Affairs decision not to grant him a further extension of stay.

Through Attorney-at-law Anil Nandlall, Ruben Dario Mercado Navas, filed several writs before Justice William Ramlal last week directed at officials of the Immigration Department and Home Affairs Ministry. Justice Ramlal subsequently granted an order for the officials to show cause why the dentist should not be granted any further extension of stay, a work permit or a multiple entry business visa.
According to an affidavit in support of the motion, the dental practitioner took up a post here in 2003 under the employ of Dr Cheddi Jagan Jnr, who had contacted him in his native Colombia, and he entered into a contract in June.

The document said his troubles began when he resigned in October 2005 and since then after reportedly being threatened, he has been having difficulties registering with the Dental Council of Guyana.

However, the dentist was granted numerous extensions to stay and work in the Guyana until earlier this year when the Home Affairs Ministry informed him, after approving his application that no further extensions would be granted to him.

According to the affidavit, Navas was in Colombia when Dr Cheddi Jagan Jnr made contact with him and offered him a job at his dentistry clinic. This offer was based on a recommendation from one of Navas’ friends who was in the employ of Jagan at the time.

Navas travelled here in March 2003 and on June 1, entered into a written contract with Jagan for a period of five years.

On June 24, 2003, Navas was registered with the Council as well as for the years ending December 31, 2004 and 2005, having fulfilled all the requirements for renewal and registration under the Dental Registration Act 1996.

However, the document said, Navas resigned from Jagan’s employ on October 3, 2005, at which time, he alleged, he was threatened that “I would not be able to work in Guyana again…” The affidavit said that on September 15, 2005, Navas entered into a contract with the government to perform duties as a dental surgeon in Region Four and “started encountering problems with protecting and safeguarding my employment in Guyana and with registering as a dental practitioner…”.

On November 3, 2005, Navas commenced his contractual duties at the Grove Health Centre but 15 days later his employment was arbitrarily terminated. On November 28, he said in the affidavit, he received a letter signed by Dr Clive Jagan informing him that his registration to practice dentistry was revoked. No good reason was given and as such that decision was challenged and an order was granted in the High Court by Justice Jainarayan Singh on January 17, 2006, setting it aside.

According to the affidavit, since then all applications (2006, 2007 and 2008) to the Council for registration have been unlawfully and unreasonably refused but on each occasion the decision was successfully challenged and quashed in legal proceedings.

Despite these issues, Navas secured a ten-year contact to practice general dentistry with Cobeer Persaud of Kitsingh Dental Lab located at Peter’s Hall, East Bank Demerara.

The affidavit showed that Navas made six extension applications to the Home Ministry, the latest being on February 7 of this year. In a letter dated February 28 from the Ministry, which was signed by E A Tappin, Head, Immigration Support Services for the Permanent Secretary, the dentist was informed that his application had been granted, permitting him to remain in the country and take up employment until September 14 but that no further extensions will be granted.

The affidavit said that no reasons were provided either in writing or during meetings. All of the applications were addressed to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and all of the letters informing him of the other approvals were signed by Tappin.

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