Trinidad & Tobago sends illegal migrants back to Venezuela
Attorneys have expressed shock and concern over the move to repatriate all the Venezuelans who witnessed the Coast Guard’s tragic killing of baby Yaelvis Santoyo Sarabia.
Attorney Criston J Williams had on Thursday issued a pre-action letter to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds requesting that the children be released and that the Venezuelans, whom he said were refugees, be given a permit to stay in Trinidad as they were witnesses to the killing of the infant and key to the investigations.
One week ago, last Saturday, a vessel with 37 illegal migrants—17 adults and 20 children—illegally entered Trinidad’s waters, causing the Coast Guard to intercept and fire upon the vessel.
Baby Yaelvis was shot in the head and died in the arms of his mother, Darielvis Sarabia, who was injured and currently hospitalised at the Sangre Grande Hospital.
All occupants of the vessel were detailed at the Heliport, Chaguaramas. On Wednesday, Sarabia’s two-year-old daughter, Danna Isabella Santoyo, was released to her father, Yermis Santoyo.
The Express understands that around 4 a.m. yesterday, all the Venezuelans, including the 18 children, were taken to a boat for repatriation to a Coast Guard base in Güiria, Venezuela.
Trinidad & Tobago National Security press release on illegal migrants
A release from the National Security Ministry said yesterday that in keeping with established protocols between the T&T Coast Guard and its Venezuelan counterparts, a repatriation exercise was completed at the border between T&T and Venezuela.
It said that people on this repatriation exercise included 35 of the 39 Venezuelan nationals who had entered T&T illegally on February 6.
The release said that prior to their repatriation, all people were screened by T&T’s “competent authorities”, as well as representatives of the Venezuelan Embassy, to ensure, among other things, that there were no victims of human trafficking among them.
“Co-operation between the Venezuelan authorities, both civil and military, was maintained throughout this exercise. This was to ensure the preservation of the safety and security of the nationals of both nations,” said the release.
The release concluded, “The Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, which was as usual, the main operational unit in this exercise, ensured that all of its efforts were in keeping with the highest standards of professional conduct, consistent with the Government’s policy and the laws of Trinidad and Tobago, the release said.
Attorneys shocked by repatriation Trinidad & Tobago Express Newspapers