HIGH Court judge Margaret Mohammed yesterday dismissed the judicial-review claim of a Venezuelan man who was among the 62 repatriated to their homeland three weekends ago. Mohammed ruled that the claim failed to provide evidence that the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO) decided to send Wilfer Sandoval back to Venezuela. She also said she could not order the CIO to bring him to court, as he was in Caracas.
The claim was filed on Sandoval’s behalf by attorney Mervyn Cordner, who condemned the action as 62 of his clients were deported while a legal challenge against the State was pending. Cordner filed the action on Sandoval’s behalf in the Port of Spain High Court on April 21. He tried to serve it that day after being told Sandoval was among 53 men and 29 women being repatriated on a flight provided by the Venezuelan government. Cordner questioned the decision to carry out the deportation, as several government agencies would have been aware Sandoval’s case was under challenge at the time. Cordner claims Sandoval’s detention and eventual deportation were illegal, as he was in the process of applying for asylum. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) subsequently issued a statement criticising the move. The UNHCR said 13 of the deportees were registered asylum-seekers and 19 others were in the process of applying. The Government has claimed the mass deportation was voluntary. Cordner said yesterday he intended to appeal the court’s decision. Mohammed ordered that the State’s legal costs for defending the action are to be assessed in default of agreement.