Trinidad prime minister called on to answer question of possible collusion with Venezuela in migrant deportations

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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad — Dr Richard Ramoutar, a national security, terrorism, transnational organised crimes and immigration specialist, has called on Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley to answer whether there was any collusion between the governments of Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela in the recent repatriation of 82 Venezuelan nationals.

He has also questioned if there was any breach of protections under international refugee law, the Trinidad Guardian reported.

Ramoutar said “Naturally, given the forced migration and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, the collapse of governance, there has been an influx of Venezuelans to our shores both legally and illegally.

“Amongst these genuine Venezuelans who need protection, are those who have become smuggled migrants, trafficked migrants, economic migrants, and criminals and cartel leaders of the illegal drugs, guns and ammunition trade.”

He said Rowley should perhaps have had first in his possession a clinical and incisive report of the legal procedures adopted, administrative due process mechanisms followed, and ensuring that those amongst the 82 Venezuelans repatriated who sought refugee protection were granted the full access to the provisions outlined, were in accordance with international refugee law and that the country’s international obligations have been fulfilled.

He said instead of maintaining a composed stature as a statesman and leading politician in the Caribbean, Rowley, fresh from the meeting of the Commonwealth heads of government, adopted a bold defiant stance and retaliated with strong statements towards members of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

The UN High Commission on Refugees alleged in media releases last Sunday and Tuesday that among the group deported were asylum seekers who had registered and received their certificates from the UN and so should not have been allowed to leave without having their circumstances verified by the agency.

There needed to be a clarification of the types of foreign nationals who have been held in detention at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) for years, Ramoutar said.

He noted the facility was generally designed as a temporary holding centre for illegal migrants who had violated the nation’s immigration laws; however, the IDC with time had morphed into another centre that needed a complete overhaul, new vision and management expertise in that particular area that conformed to all people detained under international law.

He said there was a procedure to remove all detained foreign nationals called a special inquiry (SI) process that was at best flawed, and the government needed to have a critical insight as to what was happening there.

Ramoutar said the process was like “a kangaroo court.”

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