Oleg Firer v The Chief Immigration Officer et Al

JurisdictionGrenada
JudgeGlasgow, J.
Judgment Date17 May 2024
Judgment citation (vLex)[2024] ECSC J0517-2
CourtHigh Court (Grenada)
Docket NumberCLAIM NO. GDAHCV2023/0221

In the Matter of a Claim by the Claimant Applying for An Administrative Order Pursuant to Part 56 of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules 2000 as Amended

and

In the Matter of the Claimant Claiming Redress Pursuant to Section 16 of the Constitution of Grenada Alleging that the Fundamental Rights Guaranteed Under Section 3, 8, 10, 12 and 13 thereof have been, Are Being and are Likely to be Contravened with Relation to Him

and

In the Matter of the Immigration Act Cap 145 of the 2010 Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada

and

In the Matter of the Evidence Act Cap 92 of the 2010 Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada

and

In the Matter of the Citizenship Act Cap 54 of the 2010 Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada

and

In the Matter of a Decision of the Defendants on February 23, 2023 to Forthwith Remove the Claimant from Grenada

Between:
Oleg Firer
Claimant
and
The Chief Immigration Officer
The Minister Responsible for Immigration
The Attorney General of Grenada
Defendants
Before:

The Hon. Justice Raulston L.A Glasgow High Court Judge

CLAIM NO. GDAHCV2023/0221

IN THE EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT

AND THE WEST INDIES ASSOCIATED STATES

HIGH COURT OF JUSTICE

(CIVIL)

Appearances:

Mr. Benjamin Hood and Mr. Dylan Charles for the Claimant

Mr. Adebayo Oluwu for the Defendants

Background
Glasgow, J.
1

This matter concerns an originating motion brought by the Claimant (Mr. Firer) for redress and review of the decisions of the Grenada's Chief Immigration Officer, Minister of Immigration, and Citizenship by Investment Committee. Mr. Firer alleges breaches of his constitutional rights as a citizen of Grenada. His main complaint stems from the Chief Immigration Officer's decision to refuse him entry into Grenada on 22 nd February, 2023. Mr. Firer claims that the acts of detainment and refusal of entry into Grenada breach his rights to personal liberty, protection of the law, freedom of movement, and freedom from discrimination pursuant to sections 3, 8, 12 and 13 respectively of the Constitution of Grenada.

2

Mr. Firer also asks this court to estop the defendants from denying that he is a citizen of Grenada, or alternatively to find that he had a legitimate expectation that no decision would be made to remove him from Grenada as done by the Chief Immigration Officer. Mr. Firer pleads that the decision to remove him from Grenada was arbitrary, irrational, and ultra vires the Immigration Act. Mr. Firer further claims that a publication by the Citizenship by Investment Committee (CBIC) in March, 2023 contravenes his right to protection of the law pursuant to section 8 of the Constitution of Grenada, and that the publication was likely to contravene his right to freedom of expression pursuant to section 10 of the Constitution of Grenada. Mr. Firer seeks to recover general and exemplary damages, interest and costs.

3

The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) vigorously opposes Mr. Firer's claim. The OAG denies that Mr. Firer is a citizen of Grenada or that any representations had been made to create a legitimate expectation that Mr. Firer would not be refused entry into Grenada. The OAG further avers that as Mr. Firer was no longer in service to the Government of Grenada on the 22 nd February, 2023, he could properly be denied entry into Grenada. Further, the OAG asserts that the decision to deem Mr. Firer an undesirable visitor was properly exercised by the Chief Immigration Officer and the Minister of Immigration in accordance with the provisions of the Immigration Act. The OAG refutes the claim that Mr. Firer was entitled to any of the relief sought and asks that his claim be dismissed.

Chronology of Evidence
Mr. Firer's affidavit in support of Originating Motion
4

Mr. Firer recites that he was born in Ukraine, is of Jewish origin, and is a citizen of the United States of America (USA), having obtained USA citizenship in 1996. Mr. Firer says he started his career in 1991 as an entrepreneur and businessman, and was later appointed to several diplomatic roles and positions, where he received numerous awards for entrepreneurship and diplomacy. Mr. Firer was engaged by the Government of Grenada in 2015 after introduction to its former Prime Minister, and during that time, he says he worked with the Grenada Postal Corporation. Mr. Firer was later appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Grenada to the diplomatic post of ambassador. Pursuant to that appointment, he was first issued a diplomatic passport by the Government of Grenada on 18 th August, 2018. This diplomatic passport was subsequently renewed on 16 th January, 2020.

5

Mr. Firer explains that the diplomatic passport became his main travel document when he worked and travelled on behalf of the Government of Grenada. Mr. Firer states that he was very happy when he received the diplomatic passport, as it confirmed his status as a citizen of Grenada. As ambassador, Mr. Firer says he began working with the Government of Grenada to set up a full diplomatic mission in Moscow, Russia. He recounts that he worked with the Grenadian Government from 2016 – 2019, during which time he attended several international meetings with the Grenadian delegation and assisted the Minister of Foreign Affairs by preparing briefs.

6

After Mr. Firer's appointment as ambassador, he opened a full diplomatic mission in Moscow, Russia. The cost of the opening and operating the mission, he says, were fully borne by him. After several discussions with the then Prime Minister, Mr. Firer posits that he became convinced that Grenada would benefit greatly from the mission and embassy in Russia. While stationed in Russia, Mr. Firer was appointed by the Government of Grenada as a non – resident ambassador to Monaco, Czech Republic, Serbia and Kazakhstan on 22 nd June, 2020 and to Albania and Bulgaria on 25 th June, 2021. Mr. Firer recites the work he purportedly did for Grenada in the economic, cultural, investment and medical spheres. This work included negotiating visa waiver agreements and trade contracts, strengthening diplomatic relations with other countries, promoting economic trade and investment by the creation of various forums, encouraging investors to support Grenada by acquiring properties for the major developments in Grenada and sourcing donations of medical equipment.

7

Mr. Firer states that from his first visit to Grenada in 2015, he enquired about acquiring citizenship in Grenada. He alleges that he was informed that citizenship could be granted to him based on years of service to the Government. He states that this assurance caused him to dedicate himself to bringing benefits and advancement to Grenada. Mr. Firer claims to have had several conversations with officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who he says assured him that citizenship would be resolved in his favour. He also claims to have been told that there was no immediate issue, since he was the holder of a Grenadian diplomatic passport, which stated that he was a citizen. Prior to obtaining the diplomatic passport from Grenada, Mr. Firer explains that he used his ordinary USA passport to travel to and from Grenada by himself or accompanied by family. Even after being issued the diplomatic passport, Mr. Firer recounts that he never had issues with entering Grenada.

8

Mr. Firer claims that he obtained property in St. George's, and that during one of his visits, he spoke to officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about obtaining a Grenadian driver's license. Mr. Firer states that he filled out the required form to obtain a Grenadian driver's license and submitted same to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Firer discloses that he subsequently received his first Grenadian driver's license on 24 th January, 2019, which indicated that he was a citizen. Mr. Firer believes that as the diplomatic passport and the driver's license delineated on their face that he was a citizen, his citizenship status had been confirmed by the Government of Grenada. For this reason, he says that he did not see the need to have any other document presented to him which confirmed his citizenship.

9

Mr. Firer further pleads that he became unsure of his position with the Government of Grenada, given that elections had been scheduled to be held in 2022. Mr. Firer testifies that this caused him to engage legal counsel to obtain an ordinary Grenadian passport, as it was clear to him that he held a political appointment. Mr. Firer says he was made aware of several negative statements made by the current administration during their political campaign before elections, regarding diplomatic appointments made by the then Government of Grenada. This caused him to hold grave apprehension regarding the way he would be treated after the general elections scheduled for June, 2022. After the general elections, Mr. Firer says he attempted to communicate with the newly elected administration, but his attempts were futile, as he received no response to his communications.

10

In January, 2023, Mr. Firer says that Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mrs. McLeish – Hutchinson reached out to him via WhatsApp, and informed him that she wished to convene a meeting to discuss administrative matters about the Embassy in Russia. They discussed his availability, and Mr. Firer says he informed her that he intended to travel to Grenada in February, 2023. Mr. Firer further says that he requested that they confirm arrangements for the meeting after he arrived. On 22 nd February, 2023 Mr. Firer indicates that he travelled to Grenada using his USA passport, and when he reached the front of the immigration line, Mr. Firer says that he went to the next available immigration officer and presented his USA passport. He alleges that the immigration officer handed the USA passport to one ASP Leroy Joseph, the Head of the Immigration...

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