A High Court Judge has ordered the conditional release of two Venezuelan women, who remained detained after the State agreed to hold its hand on deporting them pending the determination of their constitutional challenges over being allowed to stay in this country.
Delivering a written judgement in two parallel habeas corpus lawsuits, filed by the women after National Security Minister Stuart Young signed deportation orders against them last month, High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams ruled that their continued detention was unlawful.
While Quinlan-Williams noted that Young was entitled to issue the deportation orders, as the Office of the Attorney General only gave an undertaking to not have them enforced until their substantive constitutional case is determined, she stated that the orders were improper as they did not include sufficient particulars and were issued pursuant to the wrong section of the Immigration Act.
As part of her decision, Quinlan-Williams ordered that the duo be placed on orders of supervision with reporting conditions set by the Chief Immigration Officer. She also gave a deadline of 4 pm yesterday for their release.
In the cases, Quinlan-Williams was asked to consider whether the duo was allowed to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging their detention while having other litigation pending.
Quinlan-Williams ruled that they were entitled to bring the parallel claims.
“It would set a dangerous precedent for this court to say to an applicant, where the liberty of the subject and the lawfulness of an arrest and detention is concerned, that habeas corpus is not available to you because you have a different option,” Quinlan-Williams said.
As an issue in the claim, Quinlan-Williams had to also decide whether the undertaking given by the AG’s Office was also extended to the duo.
Quinlan-Williams said that it was given when the duo’s legal team filed an initial lawsuit on behalf of the child of one of the women, who was detained alongside them.
She noted that when the child’s mother was eventually added to the lawsuit no distinction was made.
In relation to the other woman, Quinlan-Williams noted that she had previously granted an injunction for her under the same terms as the undertaking.
The group was detained shortly after arriving in Chatam, on November 17 last year.
The migrants, the youngest of which is four-months-old, were tested for COVID-19 and were all found to be negative. They were then held in custody at several police stations until their deportation.
The migrants were placed on two civilian vessels and escorted out of T&T waters by the Coast Guard.
Quinlan-Williams heard similar habeas corpus applications at the time and ordered that the group be brought before her during a hearing the following day as she was informed the group was on a boat floating near the maritime border. However, she was forced to dismiss the case after the Defence Force said that they had already arrived in Venezuela.
The following day the group landed in Los Iros and was immediately detained by police and taken for a medical examination. They were held at the Erin Police Station before being placed in quarantine.
Most of the group filed lawsuits and obtained injunctions in similar terms to the undertaking.
The group is being represented by Gerald Ramdeen, Umesh Maharaj, and Dayadai Harripaul. Fyard Hosein, SC, Raphael Ajodhia, Sanjeev Sookoo, and Nisa Simmons represented the State.