Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 September 2023, 16:48 by Denis Chabrol
The Guyana Police Force on Wednesday apologised publicly to opposition parliamentarian David Patterson for inadvertently keeping his name on an immigration department “watchlist” up to Tuesday but he hours later rejected the apology.
“The Guyana Police Force would like to apologise to Member of Parliament Mr David Patterson, whose name inadvertently remained on an Immigration Department’s watchlist,” that civilian law enforcement agency said in a statement. The police force explained that his name was placed on a watchlist in July 2023 during a then ongoing investigation into an accusation of indecent exposure.
But, Mr Patterson disputed the police force’s official explanation and rejected the apology. “Total crap, not unexpected that they have attempted to throw some junior rank under the bus, simply for following their instructions,” he said.
Mr Patterson said 30 minutes after he had already cleared customs and immigration, an immigration officer informed him in the departure lounge that he could not travel. On immediately contacting his lawyer, Mr Nigel Hughes, that lawyer enquired from the immigration officers whether there was a court order blocking his client from leaving Guyana. “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 there 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 law firm of Hughes Fields and Stoby said in a statement.
The Guyana Police Force said it has internal Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to deal with such issues and so an investigation has been launched into why Mr Patterson’s name remained on the watchlist. “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,” police said.
The police force reconfirmed that Mr Patterson’s name has since been removed from the watchlist.
However, the politician earlier Wednesday told reporters he was unsure whether he would fly to the United States (US) later to attend the second and final day of the two-day Washington Conference on Guyana that was organised by the Rickford Burke-led Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID).
Mr Patterson’s Attorney-at-Law on Wednesday said he would be filing a case against the Guyana Police Force for allegedly violating his client’s constitutional right to freedom of movement. “Mr. Patterson has instructed that constitutional proceedings for damages be commenced against the State,” the lawyer said.
In relation to State’s case of alleged indecent exposure against Mr Patterson, Magistrate Leeron Daly had expressly granted him permission to travel for personal and professional purposes.
Meanwhile, A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) parliamentarian Ganesh Mahipaul told the Washington Conference on Guyana that Police Commissioner Clifton Hicken should instead resign. “That is perhaps the best apology he can give the Guyanese people rather than that sloppy excuse,” he said.
Mr Patterson was due to travel to the US to deliver a presentation on Guyana’s oil and gas sector at the Congressional Black Caucus on Capitol Hill.