Venezuelan mom issues call for Heliport detention centre to be shut down

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Venezuelan mom issues call for Heliport detention centre to be shut down

Days after her 15-year-old son was awarded $2.4 million in damages after being detained at the heliport as an illegal immigrant, the boy’s mother, through her attorney, is now set to file for a judicial review of the heliport.

According to a Newsday report, the attorney Gerald Ramdeen revealed that the mother has called for the closure of the heliport coming out of the evidence that came out of the boy’s case.

“The evidence that came out of this case made it clear that this place was unfit to detain people, let alone children,” Ramdeen said.

On Friday, Justice Margaret Mohammed ordered that the defendants in the case, the Chief Immigration Officer and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago pay the boy the sum of $900,000 in general damages, $500,000 as aggravated damages and a million dollars in exemplary damages for holding him for over 400 days.

In 2020 at the height of the covid19 pandemic, then National Security Minister Stuart Young declared the heliport as a detention centre for the duration of the pandemic.

Ramdeen told Newsday that in July 10, 2023, when about 200 undocumented Venezuelan nationals were arrested at a St James bar, they were detained at the heliport in contrast to the specification of Young’s orders that the facility was to be used as a detention centre only for the period of the pandemic. On July 25, current Minister of National Security, Fitzgerald Hinds, continued the establishment of the heliport as a detention centre until otherwise declared.

Ramdeen said the heliport continued to operate as a detention centre under Fitzgerald Hinds’ orders, meaning that several children continued to be taken to the centre. “When they hold minors in these exercises they still take minors there. They carry children there for processing. I don’t know how long they stay there. We don’t know if they stay there for a day, a week, a month… we just don’t know.

“How many children have been detained at the heliport and suffered the same fate as this young boy?”