Nine of 16 children being detained at the State’s quarantine detention facility at the heliport in Chaguaramas were released on Thursday. Seven children and nine women are still at the facility.
Attorney Nafeesa Mohammed, who had been vocal in calling for the release of the detainees, said immigration officers spent Thursday interviewing the relatives. She said no reason was given for releasing some and not all of the children.
“They only said that some were being released, and I was very concerned and disturbed. When I saw some vehicles driving out of the heliport I attempted to flag down the vehicles, because I understood they were immigration officers, and I pleaded with one officer to use his good office to communicate with his superiors, knowing that it’s a long weekend, to organise the release of the other children and their mothers in the shortest possible time. Those who were able to get their children in the evening, it was a joy yes, but also sad and traumatic for these children who would now be separated from their mothers who were not released,” she told Newsday.
She said she has been appealing for the release of the detainees because she feels it is in the best interest of the children. She said it is the desirable thing to do as TT is party to the UN Convention to the Rights of the Child.
“I’m very mindful that another attorney has been involved in the filing of several constitutional motions currently before the court, and while that process is taking place, it is my view that the children and their mothers, some of whom are in there detained with them, should all be reunited with their relatives who are here. The State has all the information pertaining to these relatives, so to avoid them being any further burden they can be reunited with their loved ones and the adults can be placed on orders of supervision pending the determination of the court matters.”
Mohammed said she will be continuing to appeal to the authorities to allow them to be reunited, especially as due process is already in train until the matters are ended.
“I know whatever the law enforcement issues are, it is expected that with these migration and migrant issues, there will be a balancing act with humanitarian and human rights-based approach as well, and it is in that context that I continue to ask for their release and reunification while the law takes its course.”
National Security Minister Stuart Young could not be reached for comment on Friday.