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FIJI: 'I have served this country so long,' says social justice advocate


Father Kevin Barr flanked by the Qalowasa children at their Wailoku residence. From left: Robert, Peter, Mary Bridget and Sosiceni. Image: Fiji Times/Vamere Rokovesa

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Item: 8183

Tevita Vuibau

"I have served the country for so long and most of the people I know and love are here. Fiji has been my home for 32 years and I hope to live and die here," he said.

His comments come as the government yesterday reversed a removal order issued to the 76-year-old social worker less than 24 hours after it was given.

When visited yesterday, Father Barr expressed relief and gratitude to the government for changing its stance on the issue.

According to the government statement, Father Barr will be allowed to see out the remainder of his work permit that expires at the end of 2013.

"I have yet to receive official documents from the Department of Immigration, but I have heard it being broadcast and I have seen the official government statement," Father Barr said.

"I am of course very grateful for the deferrment."

Work permit 'breach'
The government initially gave Father Barr until today to leave the country "due to a breach in his work permit."

However Father Barr said he remained unclear on what the breaches were and would need to discuss them with Immigration.

A Ministry of Information statement yesterday, said the Fiji government reversed the removal order after a meeting between the Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and the Minister for Immigration, Joketani Cokanasiga.

"After representations were made to the Prime Minister's office, which were then followed by a discussion between the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration, the Minister for Immigration has withdrawn the declaration of Father Kevin Barr as a prohibited immigrant under section 13(2)(g) of the Immigration Act 2003," the statement said.

"Consequentially, the removal order issued against Father Kevin Barr by the Permanent Secretary of Immigration has also been withdrawn."

"Father Kevin Barr is eligible to continue staying in Fiji under the conditions of his existing work permit," the statement concluded.

Earlier story

 

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Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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