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Without court order, police blocked Patterson from leaving country

Without court order, police blocked Patterson from leaving country

News

…later issue apology, saying it was a mistake

Kaieteur News – Former Minister of Public Infrastructure and current APNU+AFC Member of Parliament David Patterson was on Tuesday night blocked from travelling by Guyanese immigration officials, which effectively disrupted his travel to the United States to meet with the US Black Congressional Caucus.

Commissioner of Police (Ag): Clifton Hicken 

Commissioner of Police (Ag): Clifton Hicken

The Guyana Police Force has since apologized to Patterson, saying that his name had “inadvertently remained on an Immigration Department’s watchlist.”  In a terse statement, the police said that Mr. Patterson’s name was placed on the watchlist in July 2023 during an ongoing investigation by the police into accusation of indecent exposure. “The Guyana Police Force has internal SOPs to deal with such issues, and a full probe is underway by the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) as to why Mr. Patterson’s name was not removed earlier from the list. Mr. Patterson’s name has since been removed from the watchlist,” the statement ended.

Meanwhile, Patterson’s lawyer, Nigel Hughes also in a statement said that on Tuesday evening, Mr. Patterson went to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport for the purposes of travelling to the United States to deliver a presentation on Guyana to the Black Congressional Caucus on Capitol Hill.  Hughes said after Mr. Patterson had cleared Customs and Immigration, he was approached by Immigration officers who informed him that he was not permitted to travel. “Mr. Patterson contacted his Attorneys, Hughes, Fields and Stoby, who informed him that the magistrate had expressly permitted him to travel for business and professional reasons when he was recently charged, provided he attended the court hearing either virtually or in person.” The attorneys-at-law then engaged the Immigration officers and inquired whether they were in possession of any order of Court restraining Mr. Patterson from travelling. “They responded indicating that they did not have any such order neither were they aware of any such order but there was “something in the system” which said Mr. Patterson could not travel.” The attorneys invited the officers to engage the Head of immigration immediately as Mr. Patterson’s constitutional right to travel would be violated if he was prevented from travelling.

“The officers asked that the attorneys call back in five minutes. On the return call, the attorneys were informed that they were unable to contact the Head or Deputy Head of Immigration and in the light of the fact that there was “something in the system” Mr. Patterson would not be permitted to leave the country.” Hughes said Mr. Patterson has since instructed that constitutional proceedings for damages be commenced against the State.

Meanwhile, the Alliance For Change (AFC) also condemned “in the strongest and harshest manner, the puerile act of victimization and discrimination commuted against its representative, and elected Member of Parliament, Hon. David Patterson.”

The AFC said further information received revealed that a senior elected Government and PPP official, operating out of the Office of the President, ordered that Mr. Patterson be prevented from travelling. “This act of preventing the free movement of a citizen is illegal, unconstitutional, and in the context of a 2023 world, downright barbaric. It has no place in a modern and democratic society,” the AFC said.

David Patterson at the Departure Lounge of the CJIA last night on his way to the USA after he was cleared by Immigration to travel

David Patterson at the Departure Lounge of the CJIA last night on his way to the USA after he was cleared by Immigration to travel

The party said the PPP is showing even to an invited guest of the US Congress, and to all citizens, that it alone sets the agenda, and decides who gets to go to what meetings, and who does what. “These are the unmistakable actions of a despotic regime. Obviously, apart from his strident criticism of PPP policies, the symbolism that he is an African Guyanese representative, and not coincidentally, enroute to a meeting of the Black Congressional Caucus, in Washington, D.C, cannot be missed,” the AFC said. “The PPP, no doubt, intended to make a statement here about its views on race relations and about Afro-Guyanese causes in particular. Moreso, it sent a strong statement of rebuke to the Black Congressional Caucus, in particular, and the US Government, in general. It is ironic that the act that was meant to embarrass and punish Mr. Patterson, and prevent his attendance at the important gathering, has in fact, openly exposed the lies and very nature of the monstrous PPP, and the lengths it is prepared to go to subjugate its opposition.”

According to the AFC, the action against Patterson is a frightening development, “a wakeup call to all Guyanese, and to the world, that despite the glitz and glamour, things are rotten in the state of Guyana and all are likely to be consumed. The AFC firstly demands a public apology to be issued by the President, Irfaan Ali, for the misuse and abuse of his office against a citizen, and secondly, a full investigation that names who ordered this atrocity, why it was done, and to be followed with a report on what corrective actions will be taken. The AFC intends to register a formal complaint with the US Government, the CARICOM Secretariat, and the Commonwealth Secretariat about the PPP’s actions against an elected official. Also, legal advice will be sought on what actions can be brought by Mr. Patterson for breaches of his fundamental rights.”