CHAGUANAS MP Dinesh Rambally has written to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds to ask what proactive measures he intends to employ to avoid further border-crossing tragedies between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago.
Commenting on the recent drownings when a boat leaving Trinidad for Venezuela capsized, leaving 20 passengers unaccounted for, he said too many of these incidents occur in the waters between the two countries.
He said Hinds must have a plan to protect human lives against the modern slave trade, human trafficking and piracy, while protecting the borders against illegal entry.
He urged, “When such tragedies repeat themselves time and again, it should invoke our sense of common humanity and inspire us to do whatever is necessary to prevent any more loss of life and liberty.
“It is not only a national security issue, but it is a humanitarian issue as well. Those who died must not be equated to mere statistics, and the frequency of these incidents ought not to make this country numb to this reality.”
Rambally said given last year’s budgetary allocation and what is proposed for the next fiscal year, Trinidad and Tobago should have passed the point of resources and seen positive results.
“Illegal immigration is a worldwide concern," he pointed out. Countries and governments are often judged by their response to illegal immigration. Solutions are not always straightforward, but that does not exonerate this government from its duty to address the illegal border crossings and the many attendant problems that arise.
“Porous and unsupervised borders result not only in drowning, but also pirate attacks on our local fishermen, the further spread of covid19 and a proliferation of human trafficking, including of children. “
He quoted from a UN News website article, “Establish Safe Pathways,” which emphasised the need for governments to collaborate internationally to prioritize human lives and human rights.
The article said, “Shipwrecks, tragic deaths at border crossings and further suffering are avoidable, but only if immediate and concerted international action is mobilized to find pragmatic solutions that put saving lives and protecting human rights at the forefront of any response.”
The UN agencies are co-leaders of a platform that co-ordinates the work of at least 24 partners and governments across the Caribbean to meet the needs of refugees and migrants from Venezuela in the sub-region.
Rambally claimed, “It is no secret that the United States, other Caribbean countries and particularly Venezuela are getting quite edgy about the escalation and complicity of Trinidadian security personnel who are running a multi-million-dollar human-trafficking industry and so far, this government has not given a good account of its efforts to combat this illegal enterprise.
He said TT was under the international microscope and pressure was mounting to combat these activities.
"Today this country is in an uncomfortable place as our security apparatus uncomfortably confronts the modern competencies of organized crime, with well-connected networks, operations and lucrative underworld contracts.”
He said he is certain the population will be as interested as he is to find out how he intends to tackle the scourge of human and child trafficking, the illegal ports utilised by illegal immigrants who are hiding out in forested areas.
Recalling the attacks on several fishermen, some who have died at sea, Rambally also sought from Hinds tangible assurances to local fishermen that they can go out on the open seas with the confidence that they have the protection of the various arms of National Security.