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Trinidad and Tobago Gov't denies deporting Venezuelan asylum seekers

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago Government yesterday said it respects the rights of any person to seek asylum here, as well as the decision of any foreign national to voluntarily return to their country of nationality, after the United Nations expressed concern that a number of Venezuelans who had sought asylum in the country may have been deported to the South American country over the last weekend.

“The Government of Trinidad and Tobago also has a right to repatriate any foreign national who is found to be in breach of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and will take the necessary steps to ensure repatriation.

“To this end the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Government of Venezuela have been engaged in discussions to reduce the length of detention for those Venezuelan nationals in breach of the laws of Trinidad and Tobago and to repatriate them to their homeland as soon as practicable,” the Ministry of National Security said in a statement.

At least 82 Venezuelans, including 29 women, were deported to their homeland last Saturday and the Ministry of National Security said the Venezuelans “were voluntarily repatriated… to the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela with the assistance of the ambassador of Venezuela to Trinidad and Tobago, Her Excellency Coromoto Godoy”.

It said that the Government here had held discussions with the Venezuelan ambassador on April 18 to discuss arrangements for the “Venezuelan nationals who were being housed at the Immigration Detention Centre, Aripo, back to their homeland”.

But the United Nations Resident Coordinator Richard Blewitt said “the United Nations is concerned for the welfare of these people and is in contact with the appropriate authorities in Port of Spain to ensure that any person in need of protection will get it without fail”.

The Living Water Community, a religious-based organisation that works with the United Nations Refugee Agency, said that it, too, hadreceived reports of Venezuelans being deported.

The Keith Rowley Government said that at the airport “each person was asked if they had any fear or objection to returning to their homeland” and that “all stated that they wanted to leave”.

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