BRITISH High Commissioner, Mr Greg Quinn, is of the opinion that given the free-market dynamics of today’s world, no country can operate in isolation, because of its stringent immigration policies.
He, however, feels that in the interest of State security, it is important for countries to have effective immigration systems in place.
“One of the first requests his Excellency the President made to me was for the UK to look at broader security sector reforms, and I am therefore happy to say that we have been able to start that support through the provision of a security sector adviser,” the British envoy said Monday at the opening of a Risk and Liaison Overseas Network (RALON) workshop for local immigration officers.
The appointee, whose name is Mr. Russell Combe, has been tasked with reviewing the security sector to make recommendations and implement some of the agreed recommendations as soon as possible. “This is something we want to see in action; not just sitting on a shelf,” Ambassador Quinn said.
Training, he said, will cover several issues, among them: An overview of Human Trafficking and Immigration; enhanced forgery and interviewing skills; and underscoring the latest trends and concerns in the wider Caribbean region.
“This will help ensure the integrity of the system, and allow genuine visitors to have the easiest possible access,” he said, adding:
“Every country needs strong borders; every country wants to encourage tourists and business visitors.”
According to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Mr Winston Felix, the training course for immigration officers is part of a package to boost immigration surveillance, and guard against passport fraud, drug trafficking and Trafficking in Persons (TIP). “This is intended to protect Guyana, and improve on our national security,” Minister Felix said.
At a recent post-Cabinet media briefing, Minister of State, Mr Joseph Harmon had stated that the influx of illegal immigrants here is something that the government will be ‘tightening up’ on.
Harmon said that with the recent announcement by Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of National Security that there are over 100 known terrorists linked to ISIS holed out there, it is now more important than ever that Guyana beefs up its own immigration capacity.
“We cannot be aware that something is happening in our neighbour’s yard and do not take steps to ensure we correct it here,” Minister Harmon said, adding:
“We have to ensure that we protect Guyanese; that we protect our image internationally so that we will not become another hotbed for extremism in this region. “So, yes! We have to tighten up our immigration! And it has to do with illegal entry into Guyana, as well as for security purposes.”
He was quick to note, however, that no ban will be imposed on citizens travelling to and from places that are known terrorist haunts, unless the person in question is engaged in activities that raise a red flag.
“Once red flags are raised, they basically do their investigation. The intention, of course, is to ensure that we provide safety to Guyanese,” Minister Harmon said.
He’d also said that the government will not be putting measures in place to prevent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) personnel from entering Guyana.