Trinidad and Tobago: Deportation of 82 Venezuelans violates human rights obligations

Trinidad and Tobago must guarantee and protect the rights of all asylum seekers and refugees, said Amnesty International in an open letter to Prime Minister Keith Rowley today, following the deportation of 82 people from Venezuela on 21 April.

The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has said that the group included registered asylum-seekers and individuals who had declared an intention to apply for refugee status.

Mass deportations are prohibited under international law, as is the violation of the principles of non-penalization, non-refoulement, and confidentiality, and the rights to due process and judicial protection.

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said:

“Millions of Venezuelans are fleeing an unprecedented human crisis in their country. They need a life jacket, not to be sent back to a country where they may face torture or other grave human rights violations

“If indeed those deported were forcibly returned without an individual assessment of their situation or having the opportunity to challenge their deportation orders, without having their legal options explained to them in a language they understand and without access to their lawyers or the UNHCR, the actions of the government of Trinidad and Tobago have undermined due process, the government’s own policy on asylum, and the country’s international human rights obligations.

“Now more than ever, states like Trinidad and Tobago must guarantee the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, including increasing numbers of people from Venezuela who are in dire need of international protection. To fail to do so is to ignore the country’s commitment to protecting human rights.”

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