HUNDREDS of refugee seekers can be deported if they run afoul of local immigration laws as the High Court has declared that the obligations under the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention and the principles of non-refoulment do not apply to TT as they are not incorporated in domestic law.
This means that all migrants are subject to the provisions of the Immigration Act and migrants, asylum and refugee seekers can be deported even if they have registered with the UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR).
The declarations were made by Justice Frank Seepersad on Tuesday, as he settled the long-standing issue over the applicability of local immigration laws on refugees.
He was presiding over the judicial review and constitutional claim of Yohan Jesus Rangel Dominguez, who challenged a deportation order by the Minister of National Security in March.
Seepersad had been asked to consider whether local immigration legislation is compatible with this country’s international obligations to refugees. According to the evidence in the case, in April last year, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) granted the man refugee status. Several months later, he was arrested while travelling in a taxi in Fyzabad and charged with entering the country illegally. The 33-year-old father of four pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined $2,000.
He was then placed on an order of supervision by the division after providing a $2,100 bond.
In March, the division detained him and issued him a deportation order. In the lawsuit, he claimed his proposed deportation was illegal based on this country’s international obligations to refugees.
His lawyers pointed to the United Nations’ 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which this country signed on to in November 2000 and advocates against returning refugees to a country where they would probably face persecution (non-refoulment). The man was represented by John Heath, SC, Shalini Sankar, and Annesia Gunness. The division’s legal team included Sasha Sukhram, Jayanti Teeluckdharry, and Vincent Jardine.