46 deported Venezuelans return to TT; call on CoP to investigate Security Minister

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46 deported Venezuelans return to TT; call on CoP to investigate Security Minister

A large group of Venezuelan migrants who were deported last month during a mass deportation have re-entered Trinidad and Tobago illegally.

The migrants, 46 in total, have been advised by their attorneys to surrender to the police.

Attorneys Criston J Williams and Blaine Sobrian of the firm Quantum Legal, have sent letters to the Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Prime Minister, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Police Complaints Authority, informing them of their clients’ actions.

The attorneys for the 46 are also calling on the CoP to investigate National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds for crimes against humanity for signing their deportation order.

They claim they were forced to sign deportation orders under threat of imprisonment and were not afforded the right, as asylum-seekers. to challenge their rejection as provided for under the Immigration Act.

“The complainants also wish to file complaints against the Minister in relation to offences under Sections 30A(1)(vii) and 30B of the Offences Against the Person Act. 4.43.”

They say the minister’s conduct caused them distress. Hinds and the Immigration Division were also accused of engaging in acts to “pervert the course of public justice.”

They argue that the “total bypassing of procedure under the Immigration Act by the minister and the Immigration Division to effect their hurried deportation was premeditated to obstruct a police investigation into the going-ons at the heliport and to conceal from the TT Police Service the commission of serious crimes perpetrated therein at the hands of the minister, Immigration Division and other servants of the State.

“They maintain that their deportation would and has made it virtually impossible, both practically and legally (to an extent), to make a complaint or give evidence of criminal conduct concerning the heliport without incurring severe prejudice. “

The attorneys called on Harewood-Christopher to “order, co-ordinate and oversee a criminal investigation, forthwith and without delay, into the Ministry of National Security and the Immigration Division concerning the report of the complainants alleging criminal behaviour by the Minister, the Immigration Division and/or immigration personnel.”

They also asked for a comprehensive report on the police investigations and for the commissioner to give reasons if there are no criminal investigations or if criminal charges are not laid against the minister.

The return of the 46 follows that of Venezuelan refugee Juan Manuel Acosta, who returned to TT five days after he was expelled on August 12.

On Thursday, Acosta resettled in the US. He had been approved for resettlement there through the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

Acosta and the 46 were among approximately 200 Venezuelans held in a raid at the Apex Bar in St James on July 9.

Some of them were ordered to be conditionally released by the court, and 98 of them were deported on August 12, including Acosta and the 46.