Court upholds the constitutionality of border closure

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Court upholds the constitutionality of border closure

The Attorney General announce that the closure of the borders of Trinidad and Tobago and the managed re-entry of nationals under the Public Health Regulations have been upheld by the High Court in a written ruling on Monday 29th March, 2021, by Madame Justice Eleanor Donaldson- Honeywell, in the matter of (CV2020-03855) Takeisha Clairmont v The Minister of Health and the Attorney General.

In a release issued this afternoon by the Office of the Attorney General, the Public Health Regulations, as developed by the Government was developed to guard against the ravaging effects of public health risks caused by an infectious disease, (which allow for the closure of the borders and the exemption process) were found to be intra vires the Public Health Ordinance 1940, which is saved law and therefore not subject to constitutional challenge.

The Court went on to note that rights under the Constitution are not absolute.

They carry reciprocal duties and responsibilities and may be subject to such restrictions as are necessary in a democratic society, in the
public interests of national security, public safety and protection of the rights of other persons.

This applies to rights such as freedom of movement and entry into Trinidad and Tobago.

The Court therefore found, that even if the Public Health Regulations were subject to constitutional challenge, the closure of the borders and the managed re-entry of nationals are not unconstitutional and are in fact a proportionate response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Consequently, the Court therefore, rejected and dismissed the Claimant’s claim for judicial review and constitutional relief, and ordered her to pay 25% of the State’s legal costs.

The Claimant was represented by Anand Ramlogan SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Che Dindial, Alana Rambaran and Ganesh Saroop.

The Attorney General was represented by Reginald Armour SC, Vanessa Gopaul, Raphael Ajodhia, Savitri Maharaj and Kadine Matthew.