In an open letter to Prime Minister, Dr Keith Rowley, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights is asking the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to give the return of deported children and adults a second chance.
In a release issued this evening by the organization, they expressed relief at the return of at least 16 children, including a small baby, and an estimated 12 adults to Trinidad following their deportation to Venezuela on 22 November.
The Caribbean Centre for Human Rights also said it “believes this gives the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago a second chance to uphold its domestic and international obligations to protect the rights of children, and to provide international protection for people seeking safety from danger.”
“We ask the government to immediately reunite the children with their families, grant them access to apply for asylum, screen to determine if they have been trafficked, and provide medical attention, as should have been done after they were first identified by the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago.”
The Executive Director Caribbean Centre for Human Rights, Denise Pitcher claims that some of the children had family already registered in Trinidad and Tobago with UNHCR.
It said this will make it even more necessary for the authorities to have granted them access to asylum procedures according to the country’s obligations under international law.
According the CCHR “some 50 children have been deported this year, despite the fact that Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which requires countries to act in the best interest of children, refrain from detaining them according to international law, and prohibits deporting them to situations where they could face ill-treatment or danger.”
The Centre continued by saying that “the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young indicated that children were being held by authorities to protect the population in Trinidad from a risk of COVID-19.”
“We wish to remind your government that many countries have successfully established practices to ensure asylum seekers are exempt from entry bans in accordance with international law while also being screened effectively and given access to medical care. The pandemic cannot be used as an excuse to deny access to asylum and safety to those who need it most,” said The Caribbean Centre for Human Rights.
“We reiterate that Trinidad and Tobago must find ways to grant legal residency for Venezuelans through re-opening the registration process, or passing national refugee legislation, which would facilitate its compliance with international law.”
The Caribbean Centre for Human Rights is calling on Trinidad and Tobago as with other Latin American countries to find solutions and resources to respond to and help people fleeing Venezuela.
Below are the names of the Venezuelan migrants who were deported and made their way back to Trinidad –
1. Acceso a la Justicia
2. Acción Solidaria
3. Amnistía Internacional
4. Asylum Access
5. Aula Abierta
6. Caribbean Centre for Human Rights
7. Centro de Justicia y Paz – Cepaz
8. CIVILIS Derechos Humanos
9. Clínica Jurídica de Migrantes y Refugiados de la Universidad Diego Portales (Chile)
10. Comisión Nacional de DDHH de la Federación de Colegios de Abogados de Venezuela del
11. Derechos Humanos Con DR Corp
12. Families in Action
14. Red Jesuita con Migrantes LAC
15. Refugees International
16. Ryu Dan Dojo Empowerment Foundation