I write to respond to an article in the Kaieteur News titled `Felix dodges another Parliamentary meeting to explain unaccounted Haitians, Cubans’ dated Thursday, July 12, 2018. This wholly fallacious and unsubstantiated account suggests that as Minister of Citizenship, I have been attempting to avoid investigation into what appears to be unaccounted numbers of migrants to the country.
First, let me establish for the record that there is an established procedure and protocol for Parliamentary Sectoral Committee attendance and the headline of the article is in direct contravention to the fourth paragraph that clearly indicates that the Committee has been provided with dates for said meeting from which one has been selected. As a government Minister, while I would never undervalue the importance of such meetings, I must also underscore that my day-to-day duties must of necessity take precedence.
My concern in this matter is not so much the presentation of the facts, clearly reliant on statistical evidence, but on the tone that is being promulgated by a writer who at no time took the opportunity to speak with me as to what may have been the reasons for the numbers and with no attempt on their part to make any other suggestion than that the department and by extension the government is using this method to secure votes.
Responsible journalism is critical if we are to build our fledgling democracy and the Media through its exercise of free speech holds the power to create both good and bad outcomes dependent on their being lax with the truth. This government had evidenced its commitment to press freedom and we will not stand by and see this freedom used irresponsibly by those with hidden agendas.
We are all aware of the size of our country, the porous nature of our borders, the paucity of our human resource capacity to man these borders, and the ingenuity of those who would contravene our immigration Laws. My job as Minister of Citizenship is to search constantly for solutions to these issues within the ambit of my department’s mandate and the limitations already mentioned.
Let me use this opportunity to once again reiterate that this government is fully committed to the building of our democratic principles, that we see immigration policy as an integral aspect of good governance, that unlike the previous administration we will not use this route to enhance our capability to secure votes since we are certain that the electorate is intelligent enough to see the changes we have instituted since being granted the opportunity to serve the people of Guyana.
And while I must commend the majority of the Media for their responsible and thoughtful presentation of the facts I will also call out those who are loose with the facts and seek to spread falsities to those who are gullible enough to believe them. My doors are always open to answer any question relating to my areas of responsibility and as the Opposition Chief Whip has indicated our meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, July 25, 2018.
Minister of Citizenship