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Sunday 19 January 2020
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PM: We have done more for V’zuelans than any other country

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley  PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI
Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI

THE PRIME Minister said this country has done more Venezuelans seeking assistance than any other country.

He was speaking on Tuesday at the sod-turning ceremony for the new Carenage police station.

Dr Rowley was responding to a pre-action protocol letter sent by attorneys representing 248 Venezuelans who were unable to register during the Government’s two-week registration exercise in June and are asking the National Security Minister to allow them to do so in the next 21 days.

The PM said: "That have to be some other country. It could not be TT."

He stressed there was a period of registration, and two weeks of notice had been given and after that period Venezuelans had to apply for visas. He stressed the policy was that any Venezuelan who did not take advantage of the registration meant "you did not want the Government to know who you are and where you are, and we therefore do not want you in the country."

He said Venezuelans could go to the court or "wherever they want to go" but the policy of TT remains.

"If you did not register during that period of registration, I have instructed the Minister of National Security to deport every single one of them."

Rowley said those people are under some type of cover by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

"They have been moving heaven and earth to get TT to open refugee camps in this country."

He said the Government said no to this because once a refugee camp is opened, it cannot be closed.

"And the threat to us, a little country like this with 1.3 million people on a little piece of land, and 33 million potential migrants next door and you go and start any refugee story here, the end in TT will be worse than the end in Venezuela. So we resolutely refuse to have any refugee arrangements in TT."

Rowley said the Opposition has been demanding for laws to be passed to give refugees rights in TT "but we say we have enough laws to give them our humanity and whatever rights under our TT laws."

He said the registration process went very smoothly and there are 15,000 people registered. The final figure from National Security Minister Stuart Young was 16,523.

"If we are forced by any arrangement to acknowledge and accept people who declare themselves refugees when in fact they are economic migrants looking for a better cup of food in our country, that changes the ball game completely. So we are making it abundantly clear we don't have to label people refugees to be good and kind to them. We don't have to fall under the advice of the UNHCR to know that if people are within our borders, those who we can absorb, that we do what we have done.

He added: "And to date, TT on a per capita basis has done more and better than any other country in the world responding to them."

He said lawyers do not come cheap, but if the Government does not get good lawyers to argue the demand he does not know what the outcome will be.

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