ATTORNEY Dr Emir Crowne has written to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights To the Honourable High Commissioner to petition the international body’s intervention regarding alleged human rights and refugee abuses in TT.
In a letter dated January 19, Crowne wrote about what he called the “appalling human rights abuses that have evidently arisen and continue” among refugees in this country.
He noted that despite being a signatory to the 1951 Convention, and 1967 Protocol, TT has not developed domestic legislation to deal with refugees. “This has evidently led to the State practice of not recognising any refugee rights,” he said. The government’s official stance that there are no laws regarding refugees in the country, Crowne noted, “flies in the face of TT’s most basic obligations under international law,” namely the determination of refugee status and non-refoulement. “Therefore, the Government’s position that there are ‘no refugee laws’ is patently false and a violation of its international law obligations at the very least,” he said. The government has also attempted to confuse the issue by suggesting the economic drain refugees may place on the country, while refusing to acknowledge the benefit.
Because of this, refugees are evidently subject to abuse, rape, exploitation and human trafficking, Crowne contended, citing media reports.
He also cited the government’s draft reguee policy, titled “A Phased Approach Towards the Establishment of a National Policy to Address Refugee & Asylum Matters in Trinidad & Tobago.” “That Policy somewhat ironically concludes with the observation that ‘States are answerable for the observance of human rights and are required to comply with the legal norms and standards enshrined in international human rights instruments.’ This despite Trinidad & Tobago's non-compliance with its own international obligations … to the human rights abuses faced by refugees,” Crowne said.
“Human rights are basic, innate and universal. They should not be disregarded and trampled upon due to political dithering or pandering,” he said.