17 Venezuelans deported after entering country illegally
Seventeen of the 18 Venezuelan nationals who attempted to enter the country illegally on Wednesday have been sent back to Venezuela.
Police said one child was allowed to stay in the country after certain conditions were considered, including the fact that the child’s parents were legally registered in Trinidad.
However, the other 17 were escorted back to the territorial waters of Venezuela at about 6.30 pm on Wednesday by coast guard officials.
According to police reports, the 18 were originally held during a police operation by officers of the Western Division at about 5.30 am on Wednesday.
The officers, under the supervision of Snr Sup Mark, held the 18, including three children, six women, and nine men, as they disembarked from a vessel which had docked on the shore off the Western Main Road, in the vicinity of Smith Hill, Carenage.
From initial information, it is believed that the 18 individuals came from the Tucupita and Guiria communities.
More on this as it becomes available.
UNHCR: Venezuelans should be considered refugees
In May 2019, the UNHCR said the 'majority' of Venezuelans fleeing ongoing turmoil in Venezuela should be considered refugees and provided with the requisite relief and assistance.
By the end of 2018, some 460,000 Venezuelans had formally sought asylum, the majority in neighbouring countries in Latin America.
The UNHCR also noted that there had been some deportations from Caribbean islands, including by Trinidad and Tobago, in 2018.
According to Amnesty International, an asylum seeker is an individual who is seeking international protection.
In countries with individualised procedures, an asylum seeker is someone whose claim has not yet been finally decided on by the country in which he or she has submitted it. Not every asylum seeker will ultimately be recognised as a refugee, but every refugee is initially an asylum seeker.
A refugee is a person who has fled their country of origin and is unable or unwilling to return because of a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
Trinidad and Tobago is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention which mandates non-refoulement, a core principle of international refugee law that prohibits States from returning refugees in any manner whatsoever to countries or territories in which their lives or freedom may be threatened.
The principle of non-refoulement is a part of customary international law and is therefore binding on all States, whether or not they are parties to the 1951 Convention.