No deportation for 64 Venezuelans just yet; Judge grants temporary reprieve

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No deportation for 64 Venezuelans just yet; Judge grants temporary reprieve

Sixty-four Venezuelan nationals who were among a large group of migrants detained at the Chaguaramas Heliport, have been granted a temporary reprieve preventing their immediate deportation.

High Court judge, Ricky Rahim, on Tuesday restrained National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds from enforcing the deportation orders for the 64, pending the determination of their judicial review claim, which he permitted them to file.

He also ordered the minister to issue orders of supervision for the 64.

The 64 were held on July 9th at the Apex Bar in St James during a police raid. In total, almost 200 were detained and later kept at the immigration detention facility at the heliport in Chaguaramas.

They were then issued deportation orders between July 13th and 24th.

In his ruling, Rahim made it clear the deportation orders for each of the 64 remained valid unless set aside by the court or revoked by the minister.

In their application, attorneys for the 64 argued that as citizens of Venezuela, they were protected by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as asylum-seekers or refugees, and despite there being no law locally, TT had acceded to the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees.

They challenged the failure of the minister to release them pending the determination of their applications to the UNHCR and their detention at the heliport.

Rahim said over three weeks had elapsed with no indication from Hinds on whether any efforts were being made to deport the 64.

“The court takes the point made by the respondent that it is usual in this jurisdiction for arrangements for deportation to take longer than one month, but is of the respectful view that that which is usual may not be that which is reasonable.

“The duty lies with the respondent to ensure that the period of detention for the purpose of deportation is limited to that which is reasonable.”

So, he added, “The court is therefore of the view that the applicants have demonstrated an arguable case with a realistic prospect of success that the period of detention has not been that which is reasonable for the purpose of detention and shall grant leave of this limb only.”

The matter has been deemed fit for hearing during the court’s vacation period. Dates and times for the hearing will be set by the docketed judge, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams.