Amnesty International (AI) is condemning the recent repatriation of 165 Venezuelans from TT back to their country.
In a release, AI researcher for the Caribbean Louise Tillotson lamented that TT criminalises irregular entry into the country. This, she said, is contrary to international human rights standards.
"Expelling Venezuelans and returning them to the humanitarian and human rights emergency they were fleeing from, in the midst of a pandemic, is an outrageous violation of Trinidad and Tobago's obligations under international law." Tillotson added, AI understands that covid19 poses a serious challenge to governments and, in this context, governments can regulate their borders.
However, she said: “The authorities of Trinidad and Tobago are promoting a xenophobic discourse, which associates people fleeing Venezuela with covid19 in a way that poses the danger of creating greater stigmatisation and discrimination against people who need international protection," she said.
"Amnesty International believes this new threat from the authorities to criminalise refugees and, in some cases, those who help them, carries the risk that these people will hide even further, thus distancing themselves from health services that they could access to protect the entire population.”
She said AI believes TT should work with NGOs, UN agencies and the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have made TT their home in recent years, to find solutions that meet international human rights obligations.