Cuban doctor must have citizenship hearing
-court rules
Stabroek News
November 14, 2003

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A Cuban doctor is one step closer to becoming a Guy-anese citizen following a decision handed down in the Supreme Court on Wednes-day.

Justice Jainarayan Singh Jnr, who presided over the matter, ruled that the decision taken by Minister of Home Affairs, Ronald Gajraj to refuse the application of Dr. Lazaro Osmin Gonzales Munoz for citizenship, was contrary to natural justice.

According to the judge, "...section 7 (2) of the Citizenship Act, chapter 14:01 does not give the minister the unfettered right to refuse an application for citizenship.

"In the circumstances, it is the order of the court that the minister's decision is hereby quashed. It is further ordered that (Dr. Munoz's) application for citizenship be reviewed by the minister within 30 days and the applicant be given an opportunity to refute any reasons why he should not be granted citizenship and to present evidence why he should."

The judge also issued an order nisi preventing the Home Affairs minister from deporting or carrying out similar action against the Cuban doctor who is represented by attorneys Roysdale Forde and Lloyd Joseph.

The state, represented by Attorney General Doodnauth Singh, was denied a stay of execution for a period of six weeks.

Dr. Munoz, a certified medical practitioner, came to Guyana in the year 2000 by virtue of a contract between the governments of Guyana and Cuba and was attached to the Mabaruma Hospital, according to his supporting affidavit.

Early in December of 2001, Munoz married Patricia Angela Sherrett and in mid-December of the same year, submitted an application for registration as a citizen of Guyana.

However, after attending an interview with Deputy Chief Immigration Officer, Mr. La Rose, Dr. Munoz was informed in March 2002 by Head of the Security Division at the Ministry of Home Affairs, that the minister had denied his application.

At this stage, Dr. Munoz and his wife moved to the courts seeking orders to quash the Home Affairs minister's decision, to compel him to consider the aforementioned application and to prevent him from carrying out any order of deportation.

But Kassim, who testified on behalf of the state, had claimed in his affidavit, that Dr. Munoz's marriage to Sherrett was "a bigamous marriage and thus the marriage in Guyana (was) null and void...the decision (by Gajraj) to refuse to register the applicant as a citizen of Guyana is not subject to appeal or review in any court...(Gajraj) is not required to assign any reason for the exercise of his discretionary power with respect to the registering as a citizen any person; (and) there was no breach of natural justice."

In a subsequent affidavit in reply to Kassim's submissions, Dr. Munoz maintained that he was lawfully divorced from his first wife, a Cuban, and presented the court with a copy of the divorce.