Justice Joan Charles

Derek Achong

Several judges will be weighing in on the legal challenges brought by a group of Venezuelan migrant children and a handful of their parents, who returned to Trinidad and Tobago after being repatriated two Sundays ago.

Guardian Media understands that lawyers representing the group yesterday had to file individual lawsuits for the 16 children and nine adults, who are still quarantined at the Chaguaramas Heliport.

While the first case, brought on behalf of a four-year-old boy, his sister and their mother, was dealt with by Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams, who served as an emergency judge last week, the others that were filed over the weekend were randomly assigned to other judges.

Guardian Media understands that some of the judges transferred the cases to Quinlan-Williams, while others chose to keep them on their docket and set hearings scheduled for between last night and today.

At the hearing of the first case at 6 pm yesterday, State attorneys indicated that a request from the children’s father, who is a registered migrant, to take food and supplies to his family could be facilitated. While they also undertook to help facilitate more contact between the family members and their attorneys for the remainder of their quarantine, a request to have cellphones was denied.

That case was immediately followed by another involving a woman and her three children, which was filed on Sunday.

Although Quinlan-Williams had granted an ex-parte order baring their deportation pending the determination of their substantive case, in similar terms as the undertaking given by State attorneys in the first case, Fyard Hosein, SC, who led the State’s legal team in the case, said there was no legal bar to deportation.

Another case involving three minors who travelled with the group without any parents came up for hearing before Justice Joan Charles around 8.30 pm yesterday.

High Court Judge, Justice Frank Seepersad.

One involving an 11-year-old is expected to be heard by High Court Judge Frank Seepersad this morning.

The group was detained shortly after arriving in Chatam on November 17.

The migrants, the youngest of whom 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 two Sundays ago. The migrants were placed on two civilian vessels and escorted out of T&T waters by the Coast Guard.

Quinlan-Williams ordered that the group be taken before her during a hearing on November 23 but was informed they were out of T&T waters and was forced to dismiss the case after the Defence Force said the migrants had already arrived in Venezuela.

Last Tuesday, however, the group returned and landed at the Los Iros beach 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.

The group is being represented by Gerald Ramdeen, Nafeesa Mohammed, Dayadai Harripaul and Umesh Maharaj.