Why did Canada revoke Gajraj visa?
High Commission cites privacy laws
January 28, 2004
The Canadian High Commission here yesterday pointed to privacy laws when it was asked by Stabroek News why Ottawa had revoked the visa issued to Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj.
Stabroek News understands the Canadian High Commission revoked the visa last week with immediate effect and speculation has been rife about the reason in light of the death squad allegations that have ensnared the minister.
On Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a release it "has today communicated with the [Canadian] High Commission suggesting that it might make available to the Guyana Police the reasons for the withdrawal.
"Otherwise the measure may be seen publicly as a sanction (on) some wrong doing on the part of the Minister. The Government of Guyana believes that the provision of such information would serve to discourage any further speculation and to achieve an understanding and resolution of the matter."
Acting Canadian High Commissioner Murray Kam referred Stabroek News to the Canadian Consulate in Trinidad, explaining that the office there might have some leeway in disclosing information about the issue. Officials at that office could not be reached yesterday.
He said Canadian privacy laws prohibit the disclosure of information related to visa matters and as far as he knew such information could only be disclosed with the permission in writing of the person concerned authorising its release to a third party. Over the past two weeks, Gajraj has not been available for comment on the death squad controversy and several attempts yesterday by Stabroek News to contact him on the visa issue have failed.
Information Liaison to the President Robert Persaud yesterday declined to speculate on whether the government would ask Gajraj to authorise the release of the information, telling Stabroek News it should await the response of the Canadian High Commis-sion to the Foreign Ministry's request.
Gajraj is at the centre of a maelstrom of allegations made by George Bacchus, about an execution squad which was allegedly responsible for a number of extra-judicial killings.
Bacchus made his allegations against Gajraj in statements to the media and to US regional law enforcement officials who were in Guyana earlier this month. He did so after gunmen killed his brother outside of their Princes Street, Lodge residence on January 5. Bacchus believed that he was the intended target as the gunmen were heard to shout "wrong man" as they sped away. Three men have since been charged with the murder. (See other story on page 14.)