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Wednesday 19 September 2018
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UNHCR: TT in breach of international refugee law

Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum in T&T enter a bus outside the Venezuelan Embassy, Victoria Avenue in Port of Spain on Friday. PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) says this country is in breach of international refugee law.

In a statement today, the Geneva-based UNHCR, added that it "deeply regrets the deportation" of 82 Venezuelan nationals on Saturday.

That group, the UN said, included registered asylum-seekers and individuals who had declared an intention to apply for refugee status, making their return to Venezuela a breach of international refugee law.

The group, which had been held at the International Detention Centre, was deported despite the UNHCR's request for access to the individuals concerned and written interventions.

“The forced return of this group is of great concern,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection.

“We are in contact with the authorities and are seeking clarification on the legal process which has led to the deportations of this group, to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago continues to abide by its international obligations.”

TT signed on to the the UNHCR's 1951 Refugee Convention in 2000. The UN called on TT to continue to abide by its international obligations as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and other applicable international instruments that are incorporated into its official Refugee Policy, in particular the principle of non-return, known as non-refoulement, and Article 31 of the Convention which requests signatories “not to impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence” to people who are in need of international protection.

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