Lawyers representing six migrant children, who were among a group of 25 Venezuelan children and adults that returned to this country after being repatriated last month, have successfully petitioned the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) over a potential move to deport them with litigation pending.
In a press release issued, yesterday afternoon, the IACHR stated that it had granted precautionary measures against the move in relation to six children of the group of 16 children and nine adults, who did not receive orders from local judges.
Guardian Media understands that the group’s legal team were only able to file cases for 22 of the group as three children were unaccompanied and did not have close relatives living locally.
Of the 22 cases that were filed, one application for interim relief for an 11-year-old girl was dismissed by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad, while the State gave an undertaking in relation to two minors and their mother.
Seepersad’s decision was appealed this week, with the case expected to be heard later this month.
“According to the request, the proposed beneficiaries are at risk of being deported to Venezuela without due analysis of their particular situations, where they allegedly face risk to their rights to life and personal integrity,” the IACHR said.
“Moreover, the Commission highlighted that lack of the referred assessment encompasses further risks of irreparable harm in light of their specific vulnerabilities as children, and prevents an analysis on their best interest and the particular protection needs of the beneficiaries who are unaccompanied,” it added.
The IACHR also made note of statements made by Government officials on the migrants’ situation as it made mention of the fact that they were initially deported with litigation pending and without individual assessments.
“The Commission notes, with great concern, that the deportation was carried out by placing children and other adults on pirogues into international waters, which by its own nature, entails a serious risk to their lives,” it said.
The IACHR also express disappointment that it did not receive a response from the State even rebutting the migrants’ allegations.
“Consequently, pursuant to Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission requested that Trinidad and Tobago adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of V.A.L.F.; M.A.C.F.; J.A.C.F.; M.S.C.F.; M.V.V.C. and J.A.R.M. In particular, by refraining from deporting or expelling them to Venezuela until the domestic authorities have duly assessed, in accordance with applicable international standards, the alleged risks faced,” it said.
It was careful to note that the measures would not prejudge any potential case, which may eventually be brought before it.
The group was detained shortly after arriving in Chatam, on November 17.
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.
Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams ordered that the group be brought before as she was told that they were near the maritime border.
However, she was forced to dismiss the case after the Defence Force said that they had already arrived in Venezuela.
A few days later 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 at the Chaguaramas Heliport.