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  HOME | Venezuela (Click here for more Venezuela news)

Trinidad & Tobago Judge Orders Venezuelan Migrants Back

By Carlos Camacho

CARACAS -- A Trinidad and Tobago High Court judge ordered a party of 19 Venezuelan migrants back on Monday morning for an afternoon hearing on their status, after they were deported Sunday.

T&T Defence Force was tasked with retrieving the group, which reportedly didn’t reenter Venezuelan waters but are instead waiting for such a gesture in the fierce waters that separate Venezuelan and the island nation.

For now, the principle of “non refoulement” of migrants, regardless of their legal status, seems to have prevailed.

The case drew international attention. News of the case made the front page of “The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian” and Monday morning the article about the migrants ordered back was the top read in the paper’s website.

Sunday, David Smolansky, the ambassador of Venezuela’s National Assembly before the Organization of American States (OAS does not recognize the Nicolas Maduro regime) had denounced the deportation of a group of migrants that included 16 minors Sunday as a “cruel” “atrocity”, particularly in the fact the 16 minors (including a 4-month-old baby) were sent back in pirogue boats accompanied only by three adult members of their party and the boat’s crew.

Some 5.5 million Venezuelans have migrated since 2013 in what is considered the largest exodus in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Trinidad and Tobago has received some 40,000 Venezuelan migrants.

After reports of the deportation went viral, a High Court judge reversed the order Monday morning, arguing asylum and deportation proceedings for the group had not been completed, The Trinidad and Tobago Guardian reported. “A High Court Judge has ordered the T&T Defence Force to return a group of Venezuelan migrant women and children, who were deported with legal proceedings pending yesterday”, The Guardian reported. “Justice Avason Quinlan-Williams made the order at the end of a protracted emergency virtual hearing, last night. Quinlan-Williams ordered that the 19 women and children, be brought into custody in time for a follow up hearing this afternoon”.

In a series of tweets, Smolansky described the deportation of the children as "cruel and very serious", especially because their defense had introduced a habeas corpus, a request that was ignored by the Trinitarian authorities. "An atrocity," the envoy stated in a series of tweets.

The Guardian also reported the boats carrying the migrants had not reentered Venezuelan waters, waiting for an act of mercy from T&T authorities.

"It is important to remember that Trinidad and Tobago ratified the American Convention on Human Rights and the 1951 Refugee Convention. Both instruments protect migrants and refugees from refoulement," the commissioner wrote on his Twitter account. In addition to describing the event as "Dantesque", Smolansky warned that the 16 deported children are in great danger, because the route used by the boat on which they were deported is used by irregular groups engaged in human trafficking and smuggling.

Fellow opposition congresswoman Mariela Magallanes, for her prt, questioned whether the Trinitarian migration office would not wait, despite the introduction of emergency habeas corpus. "Despite the attempts of the lawyers and the weather alert of the island, they were embarked on curiaras (pirogue boats or piraguas)," she wrote on the social network.

"We hold the authorities of that country responsible for the lives of the minor Venezuelan citizens. It is an inhumane, cruel and criminal act of how our fellow citizens on the island are being subjected," added the parliamentarian.

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