Trinidad High Court Rules 1951 UN Convention on Refugees Secondary to T&T Immigration Act.

Photo credit: Trinidad Judiciary on Facebook. Trinidad is not subject to the provisions of the UN Convention on Refugees (1951), ruled the High Court in Port-of-Spain.
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By Editor-July 5th, 2023.

The High Court has declared that 1951 Refugee Convention obligations do not apply and cannot be enforced in Trinidad and Tobago.

It means that all immigrants are subject to the provisions of the Immigration Act, even if they have registered as refugees, claims the online publication, Trinidad Express.

As a result, all migrant, refugees and asylum seekers can be deported even if they have registered with United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR).

The judgement was handed down today by Justice Frank Seepersad .The judge presided in case brought by Yohan Jesus Rangel Dominguez who was seeking to reverse a decision by the Minister of national Security to issue a deportation order in March this year.

Seepersad ruled “The issue as to whether the process engaged in relation to the Claimant adhered to the principles of natural justice depends upon the prevailing circumstances considered against the need to ensure that there was “fairness”.

“The Claimant was interviewed, his representations were duly recorded and they were included in the report which was presented to the Minister. In the circumstances, there is no merit in the assertion that the Claimant was denied an opportunity to be heard or that he was treated in a manner which violated the principles of natural justice.”

The judge also said that the Court could asertain no identifiable reason to set aside the Minister’s decision to issue a Deportation Order.

“. The Claimant by his statement and responses admitted to entering Trinidad and Tobago of his own volition on or about October or November, 2021 at a beach in the Morne Diablo area on board an unknown vessel. He accepted that he failed to appear before an immigration officer for examination on the date of his arrival. His statement revealed that he was not in possession of a passport issued by Venezuela (in possible breach of Regulation 13(1) of the Immigration Regulations) nor did he have the requisite visa (in possible breach of Regulations 13(5) and 13(11) of the Immigration Regulations). He also informed that he subsequently gained employment without being in possession of a valid work permit and so possibly breached Regulation 10(1) of the Regulations. ”

Seepersad stated that “The Claimant, by his admissions, seemingly violated several laws and regulations. This type of disrespect and disregard for the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, the supremacy of the Republican Constitution and the Sovereignty of this State must be condemned and cannot be condoned. The laws of this Republic must be respected and should be rigidly enforced. ”

At time of publication it is not known if the case will be appealed. Trinidad became independent from Britain in 1962 and is listed by the UN as a participant in the UN Refugee Convention by accession since 10 Nov. 2000.

Accession” is the act whereby a state accepts the offer or the opportunity to become a party to a treaty already negotiated and signed by other states. It has the same legal effect as ratification. Accession usually occurs after the treaty has entered into force.

Source: Trinidad Express.
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