CCHR: Did Paria violate the human rights of the four LMCS-employed divers?

“[…] The (rescue) divers were geared up and were ready, only to be prevented on Paria’s instructions, by Paria’s armed private police and the armed Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard.

“[…] Paria had evidence that four human beings were alive, asking for help, suffering in a confined space and Paria unilaterally refused to effect a rescue and steadfastly prevented qualified experienced divers from so doing…”

The following press statement by the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) questions whether drowned LMCS-employed divers Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry and Kazim Ali Jr were victims of a human rights violation:

Divers Christopher Boodram, Fyzal Kurban, Rishi Nagassar, Yusuf Henry and Kazim Ali Jr set out on a job.
When tragedy struck the LMCS-employed quintet in a Paria pipeline on Friday 25 February 2022, only Boodram (far left) survived.

The right to life is the most basic human right. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and personal security.”

Human rights are based on the values that keep society fair, just and equal. Human rights are universal, indivisible and irrevocable. Everyone is entitled to the same rights by virtue of being human. They cannot be taken away except by death. Sometimes they are violated by force but cannot be taken away.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 6 (1) states: “Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.”

This right is also protected in the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago.

Everybody deserves human rights.

Even in the deepest, darkest prison your rights exist as long as you do. Violation of those rights through enforced enslavement, confinement, through the use of torture, to remove or deny the rights of the human being through restraint, or force are criminal acts under human rights law. It is the misuse of power.

“The right to life is a right that should not be interpreted narrowly. It concerns the entitlement of individuals to be free from acts and omissions that are intended or may be expected to cause their unnatural or premature death, as well as to enjoy a life with dignity.” (UN Human Rights Committee)

Because of the anticipated court cases and legal battles over whose responsibility and whose fault it was, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has no intention of commenting on the legal aspects of the Paria case. Our field is human rights, and by extension, human responsibilities as recognized by human rights standards and norms and the universality of those rights which go beyond legislation, economic and social precedents.

Attorney Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj speaks at the Paria Commission of Enquiry.

According to witness testimony, the divers who volunteered to rescue the people whose lives were in danger in the pipeline, were fully equipped and among the best in the country. Paria however, ‘did not have any consultation with the LMCS divers to review and assess their plans to rescue the divers from the pipeline.’

Even more concerning is the fact that ‘the Incident Management Team (IMT) had a duty to explore all possible ways to rescue the men in upholding its first principle of the Incident Command System (ICS) which was to safeguard human lives and to act to uphold that principle of Paria’s Safety First system’—yet based on the evidence and response by Paria officials this policy appeared to have been largely abandoned.

The divers were geared up and were ready, only to be prevented on Paria’s instructions, by Paria’s armed private police and the armed Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard. They do not have that right, but gave themselves the right to do this at Paria’s Berth #6, Pointe-a-Pierre Harbour.

Paria Fuel Trading CEO Mushtaq Mohammed.

Is Paria refusing to accept that it is the owner and occupier (OSHA 86) of Berth #6? Does that not mean that because Paria, a state enterprise, took action to prevent rescue attempts, it violated the right to life of these citizens?

Paria had evidence that four human beings were alive, asking for help, suffering in a confined space and Paria unilaterally refused to effect a rescue and steadfastly prevented qualified experienced divers from so doing.

These actions, under further examination, may amount to gross negligence and an abuse of power by Paria officials and possible denial of the right to life of the four divers.

CCHR strongly urges the Commission of Enquiry to recommend that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights ratified by Trinidad and Tobago on 21 December 1978, now be put into law.

Jerome Lynch KC is chair of the Paria Commission of Enquiry.

Human rights go beyond legal rights and issues, because they are universal, indivisible, and irrevocable rights. These rights remain the rights of all human beings, including human beings trapped in the dark 30-inch pipeline buried beneath the seabed.

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One comment

  1. That enquiry uncovered so much problematic things that are common in TT, like persons who are not properly qualified doing jobs that they probably shouldn’t be in. Those families need to sue the pants off of those companies and their execs, think like Americans, somebody in the US can fall and break their back and get 5million USD. 4 men dead worse than dog in a pipe under sea water, no rescue even though people wanted to go in and help, that should be over 100million USD compensation. Nobody cares about life in TT anymore, but they care about money, so learn to play the game of money, otherwise as they say ”suck salt”.

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