An 11-year-old Venezuelan girl will be returning to her homeland, after High Court judge Justice Frank Seepersad threw out an application to stop the deportation of the child, who twice entered Trinidad and Tobago illegally.
Justice Seepersad, in his 32-page ruling on Tuesday, refused the application of the child’s mother, and reprimanded the woman for “subjecting her child to the terrors of the sea and the flagrant flouting of local laws, which cannot be condoned or disregarded.”
The girl was part of a group of 27 Venezuelans who entered T&T waters illegally on November 24, after being previously escorted out of the jurisdiction.
Reports state that Seepersad told the mother that her application was void of evidence that she or her daughter were facing persecution in Venezuela, adding that her decision was driven primarily by “self-centred socio-economic considerations.”
The child’s mother lives in T&T and has UNHCR asylum-seeker status, but does not have the immigrant registration card issued by this government.
Seepersad noted that “The issues raised in this matter involve significant emotion, but the court cannot genuflect to emotion.”
“There are many citizens in this republic faced with difficult economic circumstances and they too may wish to go to another country where economic prospects are brighter, but they cannot and should not be entitled to be refugees or asylum seeking status under the 1951 Convention (on the Status of Refugees),” he said.
The judge asked for the mother’s affidavit to be sent to the Police Commissioner and the Director of Public Prosecutions for action, since it was possible she had committed criminal offences.
He also had some words for government, as he described as “disturbing, shocking and almost barbaric” the decision by authorities to “escort” the child and the others back to Venezuelan waters in a pirogue. He called on the State to employ a coordinated effort to protect the borders.
Seepersad stated that steps now need to be implemented to ensure that a similar situation never repeats itself.