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A Venezuelan child prays with the group of people who arrived at Los Iros beach.

International condemnation of the treatment of Venezuelan nationals, including 16 children, continues to rise as the United Nations Human Rights Office condemned the decision to deport the group over the weekend.

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell in a comment post to their social media page today said the UN was “deeply concerned at the decision by Trinidad and Tobago to deport 16 Venezuelan children and nine adults at the same time as an application was being lodged against their removal.”

Throssell added, “With regard to refugee and migrant children, States have a special duty of care – the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration in all decisions affecting them.

Children should never be forcibly deported based on their, or their parents’, migration status. The precondition to any return involving a child is that an independent and impartial decision has been taken, involving child protection officials and that a return is a sustainable solution that will ensure the rights, welfare and best interests of the child.”

Citing the Convention on the Rights of the Child the statement continued: “We, therefore, call on the Trinidad and Tobago authorities to safeguard the human rights of refugee and migrant children regardless of their status, including by ensuring access to due process and procedural safeguards, consistent with the principle of non-refoulement.”

The UN again urged that governments should suspend all forced returns amid the COVID-19 pandemic to safeguard the health of migrants and in particular children.

Reporter: Peter Christopher