Living Water Community calls on gov’t to establish asylum and refugee policy

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Living Water Community calls on gov’t to establish asylum and refugee policy

The Living Water Community (LWC) is urging government to strengthen its commitment to the establishment of an asylum and refugee policy, adequate support services through respected NGOs, and integration opportunities for those seeking refuge.

This follows the decision by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad, who on Tuesday ruled that this country could deport asylum seekers even while being signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.

In his ruling on the judicial review and constitutional claim of Venezuelan national Yohan Jesus Rangel Dominguez, Seepersad said obligations under the 1951 UN Refugee Convention and the principles of non-refoulement do not apply to TT, as they were not incorporated in domestic law.

Dominguez challenged a deportation order the Ministry of National Security issued in March. The UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) granted him asylum-seeker status in April last year, but months later, while travelling in a taxi in Fyzabad, he was arrested and later charged with entering the country illegally.

In its release on Friday, LWC said: “It is crucial to invest in policies and resources that foster inclusion, create pathways to self-reliance, and enable individuals to contribute positively to their host communities. In light of the decision of the judgement. We emphasise the importance of establishing and maintaining a robust and fair immigration system, one that balances national security concerns with the principles of human rights and compassion. “

The release added that in spite of the judgement the LWC urges the government and its agencies to review and reconsider the implications of the ruling and ensure that the rights and well-being of asylum seekers and refugees remain at the forefront of their policies and practices.

On Thursday National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds said Seepersad’s ruling did not mean that refugees were no longer protected by the Constitution of TT.

“The court had, in front of it, that matter, and the court presided upon it and issued the findings, the judgment that it did. And we, as always, abide by, live by the outpourings of the court as we respect the independent jurisdiction of the court to have decided upon those matters.”

He continued, “And the government, the executive, keeps pace. Whatever the court directs, orders, the executive of this country abides by it.”