Bogus refugee claims: Federal Court Judge in Canada denies bid for refugee status by Guyanese Shivanand Kumar Katwaru

Guyanese man loses bid for refugee status
By Stabroek staff
| April 13, 2010 in Local News

A Federal Court Judge in Canada has denied a bid for refugee status by a Guyanese man, who claimed he would face discrimination and ethnic violence if he returned here.

The ruling by Justice DG Near in February, obtained by Stabroek News, upheld previous orders by the immigration courts denying his application for permanent residence in the country. The court also rejected an application for a review by a Guyanese woman who was found to have fabricated a union with a Canadian man, in order to secure citizenship.

Shivanand Kumar Katwaru, 21, claimed in his application that he was bullied as a child in Guyana by a person who was of Afro-Guyanese decent. “The bully would take his lunch money and in 1996, stabbed the applicant in the eye resulting in the applicant becoming blind in that eye,” the judge noted. The young man was treated in Guyana but went to Canada in 1997 for a month to have medical attention for the eye and returned again in 2002 for further treatment.

When in Canada, he stayed with his resident grandparents and it was in May 2006 he made a claim for refugee protection. He argued that he would be discriminated against if he returned to Guyana as a consequence of his ethnicity, ethnic violence and racial tension in Guyana as well as the growing crime rate.

His claim was rejected on June 1, 2006, and he filed for judicial review; Justice Max Teitelbaum allowed the judicial review and ordered that the young man’s claim be re-determined by a new board member.

However, the claim was again rejected on May 6, 2009, as the board determined that he had not established that he was a conventional refugee, and while it accepted that he may face racial discrimination it was found that there was no evidence that the discrimination amounted to persecution. The board also found that the bullying faced by Ketwaru was not racially-motivated and the incidents happened when he was a young child, and further that he could now independently approach the police for help. “There was evidence that Guyana had been working on its racial problems, and that while crime is pervasive, it is more an issue about wealth and not race,” the judge wrote.

The judge stated that Ketwaru had to satisfy the board that he would be personally subjected to a risk that was not generally faced by others in Guyana and he failed to do so. As a result he refused to grant a judicial review on the May 2009 decision.
‘Sham’ union
Meanwhile, Hemwattie Manbodh’s application for permanent residence, under “the spouse of common-law partner” in Canada class, was denied after authorities concluded that the relationship was not genuine.

Manbodh travelled to Canada on August 22, 2001, and stayed with her sister Madhumattie Hardiyal. She remained there until she filed a refugee claim on September 19, 2002.

According to Justice Richard Boivin’s decision, after filing her application the woman obtained a work permit and worked for various employers. At the time of the decision she was working with a window and door manufacturing company.

She met her spouse, Bobby Allard, in March 2005, after she filed for refugee status, and claimed that they were renting a room and living above her sister’s home.

She said neither of them was ever married and they planned to marry in the summer of this year.

In order to qualify to become a spouse or common-law partner in Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations, the applicant must demonstrate that she is “the spouse or common-law partner of a sponsor and cohabit with that sponsor.”

However, the investigating officer found that the couple’s common-law union did not appear to be genuine and it had not been established that they lived together.

The particular living arrangements of the woman and her sponsor were considered, the judge noted, but the lack of evidence of cohabitation, coupled with her apparent lack of knowledge about the man’s employment and whereabouts, led the officer to “reasonably believe the common-law relationship was not genuine and the couple was not cohabitating.” In particular, Manbodh was unable to provide accurate employment details about her spouse, the judge said.

As a result, it was found that she failed to provide valid evidence that the court should intervene, as it was not unreasonable for the officer to conclude that cohabitation was not taking place between the two.

As a result, he dismissed her application for a review.

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