The Honourable Chief Justice (ag) Ian Chang S.C CCH on July 17 ordered the Chief Immigration Officer to issue a passport in the name of Andrew Stanislaus Williams, an applicant who was refused after he had changed his name by way of Deed Poll.
Court documents revealed that Mr. Williams changed his name by Deed Poll executed in February 2013 and subsequently applied for a new passport to be issued in his new name.
Upon applying, he was informed by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer Ms Primo that the Passport Office does not issue new passports to applicants that have changed their name by Deed Poll unless the applicant changes their name because of marriage.
Ms Primo further stated to him that the reason for this is that persons were travelling to other countries and committing crimes and being deported and returning to Guyana where they would merely change their name by Deed Poll and apply for a new passport and travel once more.
Mr Williams refused to accept this response and instructed his Attorney – at – Law Mr Charles S Ramson to write to the Passport Office to demand a new passport in his new name.
After a response to the demand letter was not forthcoming, Mr Ramson proceeded to the courts. The Attorney argued that every citizen in Guyana has the right to change his/her name and there was no legal basis for refusing the issuance of a passport to any citizen of Guyana, who has duly changed their name in accordance with the laws of Guyana.
The Chief Justice agreed and ordered that Mr Williams be issued with a new passport in his new name.
When contacted for a comment the Attorney, Mr Ramson, said, “for years the Passport Office had practised this unlawful policy of refusing to issue passports to anyone who have lawfully changed their names by Deed Poll. While I understand that there was a legitimate issue that caused this policy to be initiated no policy should deny the rights of citizens. The message from the Honourable Chief Justice is loud and clear and I am happy that this practise is reversed. All government agencies have Attorneys or have access to Attorneys so they should seek advice for sensitive matters like this.”