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Venezuelan children remain jailed in Trinidad and Tobago

The Keith Rowley administration is not honoring court orders to release nine children from the Chaguaramas detention center.


Nine Venezuelan children have been detained for several weeks in Trinidad and Tobago, trying to escape the Nicolas Maduro regime.

Trinidad and Tobago courts have ordered the minors released but to no avail. This new immigration scandal comes only three weeks after 34 Venezuelans died in a shipwreck after Trinidadian authorities detained them and turned them back at sea. Not only the migrant boats were denied assistance by the island authorities at sea, but reports surfaced of the interceptors forcing the Venezuelan ships to take on more rejected illegal migrants, allegedly the cause of the most critical Venezuelan migrant disaster yet.

The Rowley administration is one of only a handful of governments worldwide that still recognizes the Nicolas Maduro regime. If not resolved soon, the case could reach the Court of Appeals of Trinidad and Tobago early next week.

You must read Venezuelan children deported from Trinidad & Tobago sailed piranha-infested waters

In the hearing appeal, the State intends to argue that the court decision is not justified.

Rowley has pushed a stern anti-migration policy to Venezuela: the nine minors in Chaguaramas are part of a group of unaccompanied minors sent in pirogue boats back to Venezuelan shores but allowed to return on a High Court order, only weeks before the tragic December wreck. In Trinidad, the international principle of non-refoulment of migrants gets violated. Family groups get forced to separate, and migrants get expelled without allowing them asylum hearings.

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The Venezuelan groups get represented by lawyers Criston Williams and Kerrina Samdeo, while the State is represented by prosecutors Neil Byam and Nisa Simmons.

The nine minors detained at the Chaguaramas detention center were able to spend New Year’s eve with their families, who are legally in Trinidad and Tobago, for one hour on January 31, before being remanded to their cells.

The children, along with several adults, had entered Trinidad and Tobago illegally on November 17. The group was arrested and taken to the police station in the town of Erin. They spent five nights in prison; some of them were sent to Chaguaramas.

On November 22, they were kicked out of Trinidad and Tobago waters by the Coast Guard after Trinidad and Tobago authorities claimed to be unaware of an application to stop the deportation.

After spending two days at sea, the group returned to Trinidad and Tobago on November 24; they were again held at Erin’s police station and later transferred to the Chaguaramas heliport.

By EFE. Additional reporting by Carlos Camacho in Caracas.

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