Venezuelan nationals who are refugees in T&T stage a silent protest in Aranguez over T&T’s ignorance of international protection status.

Source: www.guardian.co.tt/news (Saturday 19th January 2019)

Venezue­lan na­tion­als who are refugees in T&T staged a silent demon­stra­tion yes­ter­day in Aranguez over what they de­scribed as “ig­no­rance of the in­ter­na­tion­al pro­tec­tion sta­tus” in T&T.

Ac­cord­ing to one refugee, who did not want to be named, there is a se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of rights to the refugee com­mu­ni­ty by the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties in T&T.

“Let us re­mem­ber that Trinidad and To­ba­go the Uni­ver­sal De­c­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights and the Pro­to­col of Refugees of 1951 which was ad­hered to and its Con­sti­tu­tion was cre­at­ed in 1976 af­ter the Im­mi­gra­tion Act in the same year 1976. The Con­sti­tu­tion of the Re­pub­lic of Trinidad and To­ba­go es­tab­lish­es re­spect for hu­man rights,” the refugee said.

“The Uni­ver­sal De­c­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights in its ar­ti­cle 14 frames the right to asy­lum and the en­joy­ment of it but here in Trinidad and To­ba­go we are not re­spect­ing the refugee sta­tus as on­ly vic­tims of house raids, of ar­bi­trary ar­rests.”

The refugee said that some of them de­spite hold­ing cer­tifi­cates of refugee sta­tus are ar­rest­ed al­most on a dai­ly ba­sis by po­lice of­fi­cers and hand­ed over to Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers.

“Every day we are in­sult­ed and threat­ened and they leave us for a long time de­tained vi­o­lat­ing due process and the right to jus­tice. They de­prive us of free­dom and use their pow­er to hu­mil­i­ate, per­se­cute and in­sult us…we are hu­man be­ings with the same ba­sic hu­man rights,” the refugee said.

On No­vem­ber 23, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi said T&T was not ready to es­tab­lish laws here re­gard­ing peo­ple seek­ing asy­lum and refugee sta­tus as it can­not af­ford to, es­pe­cial­ly with re­gards to hous­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

He was re­spond­ing to state­ments by Amnesty In­ter­na­tion­al and at­tor­ney Dr Emir Crowne who both point­ed out that the coun­try has laws for refugees as a sig­na­to­ry to the 1951 Refugee Con­ven­tion and its 1967 Pro­to­col.

He said T&T was a “du­al­is­tic” coun­try and for in­ter­na­tion­al law to be es­tab­lished it must be en­act­ed by an act of Par­lia­ment, sim­i­lar with the For­eign Ac­count Tax Com­pli­ance Act and Glob­al Fo­rum.

“We have no leg­is­la­tion in T&T. We have not rat­i­fied, we have ac­ced­ed, not rat­i­fied. We have pro­to­cols that are ex­er­cised in con­junc­tion with the UN agency and Liv­ing Wa­ters and we treat with this in the way we are sup­posed too,” Al-Rawi said.

More in­fo:

T&T is par­ty to the 1951 Con­ven­tion Re­lat­ing to the Sta­tus of Refugees and the 1967 Pro­to­col re­lat­ing to the Sta­tus of Refugees, which the coun­try ac­ced­ed to in No­vem­ber 2000.

In 2014, Trinidad and To­ba­go’s cab­i­net adopt­ed a na­tion­al pol­i­cy to ad­dress asy­lum and refugee mat­ters. The pol­i­cy states that recog­nised refugees should be en­ti­tled to a se­ries of rights in­clud­ing trav­el doc­u­ments, iden­ti­ty pa­pers, au­tho­ri­sa­tion to work, and the right to ed­u­ca­tion. In prac­tice, those who ap­ply for asy­lum or are grant­ed refugee sta­tus are not al­lowed to work, leav­ing many des­ti­tute, and they are not per­mit­ted to send their chil­dren to school. The Cubans ar­rest­ed had been protest­ing this sit­u­a­tion.

In­ter­na­tion­al law es­tab­lish­es that states must not re­turn peo­ple to coun­tries where their life or free­dom would be threat­ened, or where they could be sub­ject to tor­ture or oth­er hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.