Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Nat Sec Minister to meet with UNHCR on refugees

National Security Minister Stuart Young said he will be engaging the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on how to treat with asylum seekers.

This, after 78 Cubans seeking asylum were arrested and charged with obstruction un­der Sec­tion 64 of the Sum­ma­ry Of­fences Act with ob­struct­ing the free pas­sage­way along Chancery Lane in Port-of-Spain.

The refugees were granted $5000 bail when they appeared before Magistrate Sa­nara Toon-Mc­Quilkin in the Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s Court.

Asked about the situation at the Post-Cabinet press briefing on Friday in Tobago, Young said our domestic legislation does not recognise refugee status or seeking of asylum.

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Young, who said he noticed the group of people outside the UN’s office swell from just a handful to over 200, called a meeting on Friday with the UNHCR, Living Water Community, Immigration and the police to discuss the situation.

He said the UNHCR advised the Cubans that local law would have to be enforced if they did not vacate the pavement.

Earlier this year, former National Security Minister Edmund Dillon said the government is creating policies for the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Speaking in Senate in response to questions put forward by Opposition Senator Wade Mark, Dillon said a policy is being developed which involves training for officers within the Immigration Division as well as a policy regarding migrant labour.

"The government of Trinidad and Tobago is currently drafting legislation to deal with the issues surrounding refugees and asylum seekers. The legislation is being informed by the national policy to address refugee and asylum matters. This policy is currently being reviewed in order to improve the efficacy of government organisation apparatus," he said.

Loop reached out to Stuart for an update on this policy but has not received a response. 


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