UK-based Guyanese grounded over alleged nursing debt allowed to leave Guyana

Lavern Cosbert, the UK-based nurse who was prevented from leaving the country, has returned to her adopted homeland after Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang two Fridays ago granted her permission to leave.

A relative confirmed that Cosbert had left Guyana.

After she was barred from leaving the country by immigration officials on April 2, over claims that she owed the Guyana Government money, the woman moved to the High Court.

Lavern Cosbert

Her attorney Adrian Thompson on April 10 filed a Notice of Motion in the High Court in which he sought a declaration that the prevention by the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General of his client leaving the country was a contravention of her fundamental right to travel as guaranteed under the constitution. He also sought damages excess of $1 million for breach of fundamental rights as well as an order permitting his client to leave the jurisdiction unhindered.

In her affidavit in support of the motion, Cosbert said that as she proceeded to the immigration department after checking in her luggage she was informed by an immigration officer on duty that “I cannot leave the country and that I was indebted to the Guyana Government for my training as a nurse”.

The woman said she informed the immigration officer that she was not indebted to the government and had paid off her debt in 1995.

The court documents stated that she informed the officer that she had travelled to Guyana several times and was stopped in 2008 when she was first told that she had an outstanding debt. The woman said she contacted the Ministry of Health and was told “there were no records that I owed the Guyana Government and I was free to leave Guyana”.

It was noted that the immigration officer’s refusal to allow her to board her flight was very humiliating.

She later made inquiries with the Guyana Agency for Health Sciences Education, Environment and Food Policy, the Ministry of Health and Public Service Ministry but they had no supporting documents to show that she was indebted to the government.

Records showed that she signed a contract with the Government of Guyana in 1989 to be trained as a nursing assistant at a cost of training at $21,000 and that she fulfilled her obligation with the government in 1995. According to Cosbert, she left Guyana to go to the United Kingdom on the August 6, 2006.

“My restriction from leaving Guyana has caused me irreparable harm. … I risk losing my employment as a nurse with the University Hospital of Wales and my 17-year-old daughter has been left home alone unattended,” she said in her supporting documents.stice Chang on reading the application made on Cosbert’s behalf, ordered that the respondents permit her to leave the jurisdiction “pending the hearing and determination of the substantive motion”.

A visibly distraught Cosbert had told Stabroek News that she was willing to pay no more than $21,000, while adding that she should not even be paying that sum since it was already paid in 1995.

Around the Web