ATTORNEYS for a group of Venezuelan children and adults who were initially sent back to Venezuela, but returned to Trinidad on Tuesday, have filed legal proceedings in the High Court in attempts to prevent local authorities from deporting them again.
The action challenges the legality of their deportation and a certificate of urgency filed along with it says it is extremely urgent, since the State has “demonstrated the intention to seek to evade the jurisdiction of the court” by taking steps to have the Venezuelans deported.
They are also asking for an injunction preventing their removal from TT and for interim orders for the children to be released into their parents’ custody.
The claim also asks for an order that the State determine the Venezuelans' refugee status and decide if they are entitled to protection under the principle of family unity, as well as under the protections afforded under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the 1951 convention relating to the status of refugees and the 1967 protocol relating to the status of refugees, the national policy to address refugees and asylum matters, and the laws of TT.
Some of the children’s parents are registered. Others were UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) card-holders.
The group of 16 children, nine women, and at least two men, returned to TT three days after they were put on two pirogues and returned to Venezuelan waters by the Coast Guard.
Just before 1 pm, the group came ashore on a pirogue at Los Iros beach. Shortly after police arrived and took them to a nearby guesthouse after which they were taken to the Siparia health facility.
They are now being kept at the Erin police station.
On Sunday night, Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered the Defence Force to produce the group of 16 children and nine women on Monday in the writ of habeas corpus filed on their behalf.
In court, the judge was told that the group was not in the custody of the Defence Force, since they were taken to the sea border between TT and Venezuela just before midday on Sunday.
She is also expected to hear the new proceedings filed earlier on Wednesday.
Quinlan-Williams was told she could make no order for their return since they were out of TT’s jurisdiction and were said to be in Venezuelan waters.
The Venezuelans are represented by attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Umesh Maharaj, Dayadai Harripaul and Nafeesa Mohammed.