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Thursday 13 August, 2020

UN to visit T&T over Venezuelan refugees

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley has held ‘vigorous’ and ‘productive’ talks with United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the repatriation of 82 Venezuelan nationals.

Following the exercise, the UN issued a statement saying it was concerned for the welfare of those repatriated, claiming that many of them were actually asylum seekers.

Last week, the Prime Minister signalled his intention to complain to the UN.

Speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on Thursday, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister, Stuart Young, said Dr Rowley held talks with Guterres earlier this week during which he defended the controversial repatriation exercise.

“The Prime Minister defended Trinidad and Tobago on what happened recently the repatriation of the 82 Venezuelans and made the position of Trinidad and Tobago very clear to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and in particular that we as a sovereign did everything in accordance with our laws and that we felt aggrieved as a country that a representative of the UN, rather than consult with the government of Trinidad and Tobago and find out exactly what happened before issuing a statement, went ahead and issued a statement that criticised the government of Trinidad and Tobago,” Young told reporters.

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He said Guterres acknowledged Trinidad and Tobago’s position.

“He actually acknowledged that Trinidad and Tobago according to UN records has about 40,000 Venezuelans here and that we as a government have treated these Venezuelans with the highest level of dignity and respect and we opened our arms to them, but those persons that were repatriated according to our records and we have it both in writing as well as filmed, they did so voluntarily,” the Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister added.

Young revealed that the Secretary-General of the UN said he will dispatch a high level team from Geneva to meet with the government to ensure that the right facts are put forward.

He said UN official noted that he was unaware of the issue.

However, Young said he gave an assurance that Trinidad and Tobago continues to be a leading sovereign state in the UN especially in this part of the region.

He added that the Prime Minister dispatched an official letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations putting forward the government’s position with respect to the incident of the repatriation, following the talks.

Meanwhile, commenting on a recent Interpol report on human trafficking, Young said government is not presently considering a moratorium on persons who are in Trinidad and Tobago illegally.

However, he said Trinidad and Tobago will not provide a sanctuary for illegal activity.


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