A LAWSUIT filed by the families of a group of women and children who are seeking to return to TT from a Kurdish-run al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria will go on trial in November.
Justice Joan Charles set November 18 for the rolled-up hearing of an application for leave for judicial review and a constitutional motion.
She said she wanted to move the matter forward after the State suggested to have the trial heard in December.
Attorneys for the applicants resisted the suggestion. Senior Counsel Elton Prescott, who leads attorneys Criston Williams and Kerrina Samdeo, expressed concern about the delay until December.
“This adds to the agony of those abroad,” Prescott said.
The families of at least ten women and children at the al-Hol camp say the women and children form part of a vulnerable group because of their refugee status and were at risk of exploitation and abuse.
They are also facing the threat of covid19. At least five of the children were born in Syria.
Although Prescott suggested that as citizens they cannot be denied entry into the country, lead counsel for the state, Reginald Armour, SC, said it was not established that they were citizens of this country.
“It is relevant to determine if they are even citizens. So far, that information is not available to the state.
“That is a very important point to be verified in any repatriation point,” he said.
Charles in approving the suggestionto hear the judicial review and constitutional claims together, said while she understood the request to hear the matter sooner she acknowledged that there may be national security concerns.
She said there was no reason for delaying the matter ordered the filing of submissions in September and October before adjourning the trial for November 18.
The application said several attempts were made to have the issue of repatriation addressed since April, last year.
It also added that conditions at the camp were unsafe and unhealthy with hardly any food or water and there is an infestation of flies. Toilet facilities are holes dug into the ground.
The families complain that they are concerned about the women’s safety at the camp. They also pointed out that at least five countries have repatriated their citizens from the camp, including France, the US and the UK which started repatriating children.
It said the International Committee of the Red Cross was willing to assist in the repatriation of the women and children if a request is made by the Government.
The families will be asking the court to order the minister to allow the group admission into TT or give an assurance they will not be denied entry into the country.