migrants

Migrants adults and children being prepared for repatriation in Cedros over the weekend.

THE decision by the State to detain Venezuelan minors who had arrived in this country along with their parents seeking refugee status has been deemed as illegal by the High Court.

Such decisions set a bad precedent, attracted negative publicity for the country and there must be some type of intervention by the legislative arm of the State to ensure such incidents do not again take place in the future, said Justice Joan Charles.

Justice Charles made the statements yesterday afternoon as she ordered the immediate release of ten Venezuelan minors and four mothers who were being held at the heliport in Chaguaramas since last week.

On Sunday, attorneys Criston J Williams, Jerome Riley and Kerrina Samdeo filed habeas corpus writs seeking their release from custody.

They had all arrived in this country illegally and were later detained and held at Chaguaramas.

The matter came up for hearing on Monday night before Justice Avason Quinlan-­Williams, who gave the attorneys directions for the filing of supplemental affi­davits.

When it was recalled before Justice Charles yesterday, the judge said the detention of children at detention centres crea­ted trauma at an early age and will, in the future, affect them mentally.

She said proper procedure and policies must be made to facilitate the release of children into the care and custody of the Children’s Authority.

“Having heard from everyone, I am of the view that the minors must be released. Immigration and the Children’s Authority could monitor what is happening there,” she said.

The judge ordered that the Children’s Authority conduct a suitabi­lity assessment of the address and homes that they will be residing following their release.

Some of them have relatives from Venezuela who are legally re­gistered to reside in Trinidad and Tobago.

The report of the Children’s Authority is to be furnished to the court in the next 21 days. Further to this, the Children’s Authority was ordered to conduct interviews of the persons who will be caring for the children.

Prior to ordering that they be released, attorneys who appeared on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff sought to argue that if the country were to allow all adults and children who came illegally to Trinidad and Tobago to be released, pursuant to an order of supervision, “this would simply attract more immigrants into our shores”.

However, the submission was shot down as the judge said the law required that the children and their mothers be immediately released.

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While Government officials are hesitant to admit it, this country’s first shipment under the COVAX arrangement could be in ­trouble, given the worldwide scenario.

“Nothing has changed. We are still waiting for justice.”

This in essence is how residents feel eight months after they were promised action when they protested the police killings of three men as well as other social and economic issues.

In June 2020 when protests erupted in Port of Spain and environs following the police killings of three men in Morvant, the Morvant community and the surrounding areas of Beetham Gardens, Sea Lots, John John and other areas in East Port of Spain found themselves under the national spotlight.

For days, protesters held the country’s attention as they called for justice for Joel Jacob, Noel Diamond and Israel Moses Clinton who were shot and killed by police on June 27.

Protests alone do not bring about lasting change, says Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds.

He, however, noted there has indeed been peace in the communities since the protests.

“Change comes from thinking and planning and changes in behaviours and attitudes and approaches by all stakeholders—Government, NGOs, places of worship, families, communities, individuals, etc. So protests don’t change anything, it is work and action and shifts in attitudes and cultures,” he said in an interview with the Sunday Express yesterday.

“What are they telling me about International Women’s Day when daily women are suffering. I see images of suffering every day. I am not celebrating any International Women’s Day.”

So said self-employed Arima resi­dent Shelly-Ann Arthur last Thursday as the world preps to observe International Women’s Day (IWD) tomorrow.

The Sunday Express interviewed several women on the Brian Lara Promenade last week to get their views on IWD.

There’s an old adage—crime doesn’t pay.

This is however arguable, especially if your legal business profits from the existence and/or attempts to curb crime through bolstering a country’s national security apparatus or arming the citizenry and its law enforcement officers with legal gadgets.