An 11-year-old Venezuelan girl, who was part of a larger group which illegally returned to TT last month, and is due to be deported, will know her fate today, as the Court of Appeal is set to deliver a decision on her matter.
On December 1st, High Court judge, Justice Frank Seepersad ruled that the child be deported.
However, on Monday, Justice of Appeal Ronnie Boodoosingh and James Aboud were told that the ruling by Seepersad was fundamentally flawed when he dismissed the application filed on the girl’s behalf, in which she sought to prevent the authorities from deporting her until her claim for constitutional relief was determined by the court.
Following the virtual hearing on Monday, Boodoosingh and Aboud announced that they will give their decision on Tuesday.
Attorney for the child, Gerald Ramdeen, said it was not an application by all of Venezuela, but an 11-year-old girl who has been recognised by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as an asylum seeker by virtue of her mother’s application.
The child’s mother is an asylum seeker but not a holder of a government migrant registration card.
Ramdeen said the judge raised issues that were not before him and also argued that it was wrong to attribute blame to the child for the mother’s actions.
Ramdeen said it was dangerous to apply a broad-brush approach to the child’s application, adding that there was nothing preventing illegal migrants from suffering sanctions for illegally entering TT, but the State was not entitled to breach the Constitution and take away protections under it.
But Senior Counsel Fyard Hosein, who represents the Attorney General, the Chief Immigration Officer, and Chief of Defence Staff, admitted that not all the submissions put before the judge were reflected in his judgment.
He referred the judges to the 2014 draft policy on refugees and asylum seekers, which was negated by the Prime Minister and National Security Minister.
Hosein also introduced evidence received from coast guard intelligence surrounding the group’s return to TT, including the sabotaging of their boat engines, cutting fuel lines and keeping telephone contact with people in Trinidad.
Hosein said the State did not intend to treat people in an inhumane fashion, but pointed to the many breaches of immigration and covid19 regulations, by the child and the group that entered TT on November 22.
He said neither the child nor anyone else who enters TT illegally, have a right to remain here as an asylum seeker or refugee since there are no domestic laws that give them that status.
He said any legitimate expectation was negated by the ministerial policy on entry into TT during the covid19 period, coronavirus regulations and orders under the Immigration Act which deems persons who enter illegally as “undesirables.”
He said the child had no cause of action in law before the court for any relief to be granted.
Hosein added “It can’t be that a Venezuelan child is given preference over a local child when they have breached the laws of the country.”