The High Court has upheld Government’s policy decision concerning the closure of borders and managed re-entry of nationals under the Public Health Regulations.
According to a news release from the Office of the Attorney General, the written ruling by Madame Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell notes that “the closure of the borders and the managed re-entry of nationals are not unconstitutional and are in fact a proportionate response to the Covid-19 pandemic”.
The following is the full text of the statement…
COURT UPHOLDS THE CONSTITUTIONALITY OF BORDER CLOSURE
The Attorney General is pleased to announce that the closure of the borders of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and the managed re-entry of nationals under the Public Health Regulations have been upheld by the High Court in a written ruling on Monday 29th March 2021, by Madame Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell, in the matter of CV2020-03855 Takeisha Clairmont v The Minister of Health and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago.
Essentially, the Public Health Regulations, as developed by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to guard against the ravaging effects of public health risks caused by an infectious disease, (which allow for the closure of the borders and the exemption process) were found to be intra vires the Public Health Ordinance 1940, which is saved law and therefore not subject to constitutional challenge.
The Court went on to note that rights under the Constitution are not absolute. They carry reciprocal duties and responsibilities and may be subject to such restrictions as are necessary in a democratic society, in the public interests of national security, public safety and protection of the rights of other persons. This applies to rights such as freedom of movement and entry into Trinidad and Tobago.
The Court therefore found, that even if the Public Health Regulations were subject to constitutional challenge, the closure of the borders and the managed re-entry of nationals are not unconstitutional and are in fact a proportionate response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Consequently, the Court therefore, rejected and dismissed the Claimant’s claim for judicial review and constitutional relief, and ordered her to pay 25% of the State’s legal costs.
The Claimant was represented by Anand Ramlogan SC, Renuka Rambhajan, Che Dindial, Alana Rambaran and Ganesh Saroop.
The Attorney General was represented by Reginald Armour SC, Vanessa Gopaul, Raphael Ajodhia, Savitri Maharaj and Kadine Matthew.
Attorney General of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.