Government will not turn back Venezuelans who come to seek help, here in Guyana on humanitarian grounds, but the country’s laws must be obeyed, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said.
Responding to a question posed at the post-Cabinet media briefing today, about citizens from the neighbouring country seeking refuge in Guyana, Minister Harmon said persons seeking to enter Guyana must do so legally. “The law is the law,” he said when asked whether government would move to soften its approach towards those who have been charged for illegal entry.
Specific reference was made about the recent Court order deportation of 14 Venezuelans who were found guilty of illegal entry, and also fined and ordered deported. The group of men and women sought to claim before the Court that they had entered Guyana in search of food and water due to the economic crisis in their homeland.
The Minister of State emphasised that, “Government will not tell the courts how to act. The fact that the persons were actually brought to the court meant that there would have been some offence that would have been committed.” The Minister, an experienced Attorney-at-Law, added that many persons, who realise that they are being brought before the Courts, cite all sorts of excuses for their actions.
He explained that whilst Guyana was internationally obligated to assist persons on humanitarian grounds, the law must be complied with. “We of course have a responsibility to ensure the integrity of our borders, and the immigration procedures will be applied to all.”
Government has increased its monitoring of the border between Guyana and Venezuela following political unrest and economic problems affecting Venezuela’s population.