Gov’t supports Canadian board’s denial of ex-coastguard’s refugee status bid

A recent decision by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to deny a bid by a former member of the Guyana Defence Force Coastguard to be recognised as a refugee is seen a vote of confidence in local law enforcement by the Home Affairs Ministry.

In a statement, the Ministry noted that in making its decision the Refugee Board implied that “the law enforcement authorities of Guyana are an efficient arm of the government and are not impaired from carrying out their assigned tasks.”

The bid by the former coastguard, made on the claim that his life was threatened after he was part of a team that made a large cocaine bust, was quashed late last month.

In refusing his application for refugee status, the board found that he failed to take all reasonable steps under the circumstances to seek state protection in Guyana. It was pointed out that he had only approached the authorities on one occasion prior to seeking international protection in Canada. He did not follow up to see whether his complaint was investigated, or the results of any investigation that was conducted.

The board also said that he did not know if his alleged persecutors were prosecuted or incarcerated, because he did not inquire.

It was because of the diligent efforts of the Coastguard that such a large haul of cocaine was confiscated and the persons responsible arrested by the Guyana Police Force, the Ministry said yesterday. Therefore, it added, they would have been capable of offering any necessary protection in this matter should such a need have arisen.

It was clearly noted, the Ministry stated, that the former coastguardsman did not provide any substantial evidence to show that the Government of Guyana had failed in its duties since his actions were premature and he did not allow the established institutions and mechanisms any chance to prove themselves.

“The failure to actively engage the Coastguard and the Guyana Police Force is patently obvious, since the former coastguardsman was remiss in following up with the relevant law enforcement authorities in order to seek a resolution in this matter thus preventing a thorough investigation as desired,” the statement added.

It stated further that while the capabilities of law enforcement authorities are not ideal, the government continues to make strides in this area in order to effectively combat crime and to protect citizens from the scourge of crime and therefore supports the conclusion of the Immigration and Refugee Board that “Guyana is in effective control of its territory and has in place a functioning security force to uphold the laws and constitution of the country.”

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