Relatives of two women with eight children and two orphans of a former Islamic State (IS) Trinidadian fighter have scored a minor legal victory in their litigation against the State over its failure to answer their requests to have their relatives repatriated from the Al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria.
In a short preliminary decision delivered yesterday, High Court Judge Joan Charles granted the group leave to amend their judicial review case against the Ministry of National Security to include claims of alleged breaches of their constitutional rights and for corresponding compensation.
Charles noted that the ministry did not oppose the amendment except to say that the Office of the Attorney General should be added as a party to answer such constitutional claims. She agreed and ordered so.
Charles also sought to underscore the importance of allowing the amendment at a preliminary stage.
“It should be remembered that judicial review and constitutional applications involve matters of great importance to the individuals bringing the applications and also to the public interest in most cases,” Charles said.
The AG’s Office will now have to file submissions in the case before Charles considers it and delivers her judgement next month.
Through the lawsuit, the relatives are seeking to compel the ministry through National Security Minister Stuart Young to make a decision on whether they would be allowed or denied admission into T&T at a later date.
The group comprises of a 33-year-old woman her children ages six and 11; a 35-year-old woman and her children ages three, five, 10, 12, and 14 (youngest two born in Syria) and two orphans ages three and four.
The camp, controlled by Kurdish forces, housed over 14,000 refugees from over 60 countries, who came to the region to join the IS and have been displaced since its collapse.
Most residents have been experiencing the same difficulties in returning home as their countries also mull over their proposed repatriations.
Last month, a separate group of 70 T&T women and children at the camp wrote to Chief Immigration Officer Charmaine Ghandi-Andrews seeking passports and travel documents as they have had no access to consular services.
The first group is being represented by Elton Prescott, SC, Criston J Williams and Kerrina Samdeo, while Reginald Armour, SC, Rishi Dass, Vanessa Gopaul, and Laura Persad are representing the State.