UWI law professor: More empathy needed for migrants

Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine. -
Dean of the Faculty of Law, Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antoine. -

Dean of the Faculty of Law at UWI, St Augustine, Rose-Marie Belle Antoine said while she understood the position of the protective services in enforcing the law, the government needed to be more empathetic towards the plight of migrants.

On Saturday, during the covid19 virtual briefing, National Security Minister Stuart Young said local people including boatmen, drivers and landlords, were part of the trafficking of illegal immigrants who could be infected with the coronavirus.

On Monday during a police media briefing, Deputy Commissioner Jayson Forde said the police would be working to prevent the influx of illegal migrants by challenging migrants to produce their documents.

Antoine said more policies on the treatment of migrants were necessary.

"It's become a little more difficult because of the covid19 pandemic," she admitted, but said, "There needs to be adequate policy, adequate thought. This is not only a police issue. The police and coast guard must do what they do to protect the borders and prevent people from coming in illegally – but it is a policy decision."

Antoine said under international law, once migrants reach land on a particular country, that country has a responsibility to ensure their well-being.

She also suggested that more aggressive policies to tackle illegal immigrants by having them provide documents on request by the police could lead to further xenophobic and hostile attitudes towards migrants.

"Just this morning I spoke to someone and they said everyone is blaming the 'Venes' and using not very nice language, because we make scapegoats of them.

"It's not unique to TT, everywhere in the world migrants are being blamed for crime, stealing people's work. So it's not so surprising now that we have seen a few more cases that it's very convenient to say it's all of their faults.

"We're not looking at the people who returned home and didn't quarantine."


"UWI law professor: More empathy needed for migrants"

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