Once more with feeling

IN THE NAME of law and order, the Ministry of National Security on Saturday announced the deportation of 160 Venezuelans.

But the sheer number of people deported and the timing of the announcement suggested the actions of a State content to appear in defiance of the Supreme Court, international law and basic human compassion.

The ministry’s announcement sowed much confusion.

After a week in which this country was the subject of local and international criticism for its inhumane treatment of a group of 16 Venezuelan children, it was hoped the State would use the group’s widely-publicised second landing to correct imbalances.

Instead, officials courted more chaos.

We were told the deportation had been carried out in conjunction with Venezuelan authorities, but which groups were involved, where and when – it was all subject to conjecture.

Muddied waters notwithstanding, it seems likely that the Prime Minister, National Security Minister Stuart Young and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi would rather pay little heed to the findings of at least two high court judges in relation to the State’s position on these matters.

In two separate cases, Justice Joan Charles and Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams have expressed concern about: the treatment of minors and the elderly, the potential for even more negative publicity for the country and the need for stronger policy or legislative intervention. They have had cause to issue orders relating to detention and deportation of various Venezuelan individuals snared in this net.

In one instance, a writ of habeas corpus was even evaded and state officials seemed unrepentant.

Instead of the Cabinet making a concerted effort to demonstrate that all of this is not to its liking, it has effectively side-stepped the issues raised by the judges.

No one has questioned this country’s sovereign power to regulate its borders. Yet the Cabinet has resorted to the soap-box invocation of that power as well as a wilfully myopic veneration of “border control” as the supreme principle of governance.

At the same time, the State wishes not to be seen burying its head in the sand. The ministry and the AG have lamented that ex-parte proceedings were brought over the weekend, and suggested such matters did not come to their attention in time.

Yet if there is a genuine desire to protect the welfare of this country, both need to show greater competence when it comes to being proactive in relation to court cases in which the State has a clear interest.

Since last week, it was no secret that at least some Venezuelans were returning to court. Their matters potentially had implications for all 160 deported on Saturday.

Does this really constitute the rule of law?


"Once more with feeling"

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