Asylum seekers threaten legal action

 Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum in T&T visit their country's embassy. Photo: Roger Jacob
Venezuelan nationals seeking asylum in T&T visit their country's embassy. Photo: Roger Jacob

Asylum seekers are threatening Government with legal action, demanding that they receive written promises that they will not be expelled from this country until their applications for refugee status were determined.

They say because of recent statements made by the Government, and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, they fear they are likely to be deported against their will, before their claims for asylum status have been decided.

A team of attorneys, led by Douglas Mendes, SC, and including Darrell Allahar, Chase Pegus, Ajay Baball and Edisha Greene, have taken up the case of Venezuelans Carlos Jose Perez Aria and Maria Carolina Olivares Sahad, and say they are prepared to represent all refugees who hold current asylum seeker certificates issued on behalf of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In a pre-action protocol letter to National Security Minister Edmund Dillon and acting Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Gandhi-Andrews, Allahar gave the two 14 days in which to respond.

Allahar wants written promises from the Government that a draft national policy for asylum seekers will apply to his clients and that they will be placed under an order of supervision until their refugee applications are determined.

They also want assurances they will not be expelled from Trinidad or returned to a place where their lives will be in danger or be subjected to any penalties for their illegal entry or presence here.

Allahar’s letter also sought written assurance that the asylum seekers would be protected under the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol by the Minister of National Security and his immigration officers and that any detention or imprisonment should be considered as a last resort.

Allahar pointed to statements by the prime minister when he said that the Government will not allow UN spokespersons to convert TT into a refugee camp.

He also spoke of the repatriation of some 82 Venezuelans in April.

The lawyers’ letter and threat of legal action comes on the eve of a panel discussion for World Refugee Day at which Gandhi-Andrews is carded to speak.

The discussion is University of the West Indies Faculty of Law, and will be held at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.


"Asylum seekers threaten legal action"

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