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TT | Nov 30, 2020

Trinidad deports 160 Venezuelans

/ Our Today

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 Court gives temporary reprieve for 19 others

Trinidad and Tobago Minister Of National Security Stuart Young delivers an address recently. (Photo: Facebook @OPMTT)

Trinidad and Tobago yesterday deported 160 Venezuelans, who had illegally entered the island.

The deportation exercise, which was carried out in conjunction with the Venezuelan authorities, came even as a High Court judge stopped the immediate deportation of 19 others. A statement from the Ministry of National Security over the weekend advised that the deportation was carried out in compliance with the laws of the twin-island republic and in fulfillment of the Keith Rowley Government’s policy on deportation.

In executing the deportation of the Venezuelans, the National Security Ministry statement declared that the government remains resolute in upholding the laws of the country in an effort to protect its citizens. National Security Minister Stuart Young commented on the court case seeking to prevent the deportation of the 19 Venezuelans.

JUDGE GIVES TEMPORARY REPRIEVE

Yesterday, High Court judge, Justice Avalon Quinlan-Williams stopped the immediate deportation of the 19 Venezuelans, who it was reported were among a larger group put on a boat awaiting deportation to the Venezuelan capital, Caracas. In his remarks, National Security Minister Young said it has come to his attention, via the local media, that certain lawyers approached a High Court judge with an ex parte application.

Young pointed out that the presiding judge made certain orders pertaining to some Venezuelans, who are in Trinidad and Tobago illegally. The T&T national security minister noted that the state was not represented at the hearing adding that he has spoken to the island’s Attorney General, Farris Al Raw for this case to be appropriately addressed.

The attorneys representing the Venezuelans, Creston J Williams, Karina Same and Jerome Riley had filed judicial review applications challenging the deportation of the South Americans and their detention at the state quarantine facility in Chaguaramas. The judge gave the attorneys permission to file a claim for judicial review and also granted them permission to seek immediate relief.

The judge ordered the chief immigration officer to immediately grant the 19 orders of supervision as well as quashing any order of deportation pending their applications with the Living Water Community for the UN Refugee Agency for asylum-seeker status. Among the legal remedies being sought by the Venezuelans is a declaration that the failure of the Minister of National Security to make a decision to quash their orders of deportation.

This, in keeping with the national policy for refugees and asylum-seekers affects them. They are also seeking a declaration that T&T’s draft national policy to address refugees and asylum-seekers was illegal and irrational to the 1951 United Nations convention on the status of refugees and its 1967 protocols.

LEGAL ARGUMENTS BEING ADVANCED BY VENEZUELANS

The 19 Venezuelans are arguing that the failure of the Rowley government to make a decision to quash an order of deportation against them was ultra vires to Article 33 of the Refugee Convention 1951, which prohibits the refoulment of refugees. Article 33 prohibits the return of a person to a territory where he/she may face persecution.

The Venezuelans are further seeking a declaration that the failure by the chief immigration officer to hold a special inquiry hearing was illegal. In the meantime, the Ministry of National Security is insistent on carrying out the deportations.

The Ministry states that while the Government acknowledges that there may be personal views surrounding the illegal entry into Trinidad and Tobago by persons, the Rowley administration, through the Ministry of National Security and other arms of the state, will continue to apply the laws and do all that it reasonably can to secure the borders and prevent illegal entry into the country.

On Friday, the National Security Minister told the T&T Parliament he would be meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart on the matter. However, no date had yet been set for the meeting.

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