Home / View Point / Guest Columns / Amnesty Int’nl accuses T&T gov’t of human rights violation and ‘xenophobia’ in mass deportation of Venezuelans

Amnesty Int’nl accuses T&T gov’t of human rights violation and ‘xenophobia’ in mass deportation of Venezuelans

“[…] To deport Venezuelan refugees back to the human rights and humanitarian emergency that they were fleeing, in the middle of a pandemic, is an outrageous violation of the obligations that Trinidad and Tobago has committed to under international law.

“[…] The authorities of Trinidad and Tobago are pushing a xenophobic narrative, which associates people fleeing Venezuela with the Covid-19 virus in a way that risks further stigmatising and discriminating against people in need of international protection…”

The following statement on Trinidad and Tobago’s current deportation of illegal migrants was posted by Amnesty International, a global human rights body:

Photo: Venezuelans have streamed into Trinidad by boat.

In response to reports that Trinidad and Tobago’s authorities have deported at least 165 Venezuelans in recent weeks, Louise Tillotson, Caribbean researcher at Amnesty International, said:

“It’s no secret that Trinidad and Tobago’s authorities criminalise irregular entry, contrary to international human rights standards. But to deport Venezuelan refugees back to the human rights and humanitarian emergency that they were fleeing, in the middle of a pandemic, is an outrageous violation of the obligations that Trinidad and Tobago has committed to under international law.

“No one should be forced back to a place where they are at risk of serious human rights violations.

“Amnesty International understands that Covid-19 presents governments with a major challenge and they can regulate their borders in this context. But the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago are pushing a xenophobic narrative, which associates people fleeing Venezuela with the Covid-19 virus in a way that risks further stigmatising and discriminating against people in need of international protection.

“Instead of using the criminal law to punish people forced to leave everything behind—which also risks pushing people further underground and away from health service—the authorities should work with NGOs, UN agencies and the tens of thousands of Venezuelans who have made Trinidad and Tobago their home in recent years to find solutions that uphold Trinidad and Tobago’s international human rights obligations.”

Photo: National Security Minister Stuart barks orders at Venezuelan migrants outside a registration centre at the Queen’s Park Oval in Port of Spain.

During July, the media repeatedly reported that the authorities in Trinidad and Tobago have arrested and quarantined Venezuelans.

In a press conference on 25 July, Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of National Security claimed that ‘illegal immigrants’ and ‘boat people’ and businessmen that ‘trafficked’ them, present a potential health risk and issued a hotline number for people to report to.

He also said that Venezuelans who registered and were given legal residency and the right to work under the government’s so-called ‘amnesty’ process in 2019 who were found to be ‘harbouring’ irregular migrants could have their residency revoked and face deportation. Landlords found to be renting to irregular migrants could also be subject to criminal charges, the minister added.

On 27 July, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service circulated fliers on Facebook stating that ‘illegal immigration’ could cause a ‘new wave of Covid-19’ and called on people to report ‘suspicious activity’.

Prior to this, local NGO, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights, called on the government to help Venezuelan women and children who may have been trafficked to Trinidad, instead of sending them back—including by giving them access to fair and efficient asylum procedures.

Photo: A Venezuelan protester drapes herself in a message that reads: “There is no food.”
(Copyright CNN)

According to news reports, more than two dozen police are under investigation into alleged involvement in trafficking between Trinidad and Venezuela.

When Amnesty International visited Trinidad in January 2020, Venezuelan women who identified as trafficking survivors told researchers that police were involved in trafficking networks. This, combined with the criminalisation of irregular entry into Trinidad and Tobago, made them fearful to report the perpetrators, creating a culture of impunity for human rights violations.

Amnesty International believes this new threat by authorities to criminalise refugees, and those in some cases helping them, risks pushing people further underground, into hiding, and away from the health services that could protect the entire population.

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5 comments

  1. Okay, amnesty international’s T&T chapter just lost credibility. Who exactly is writing this bogus report on elections’ eve? Who’s ‘financing’ the report? Remember Mary King? While PNM was in office, she was the head of Transparency International, who “objectively” undermined their then administration with all sorts of critiques on the central bank and the economy? As soon as Kamla got into office, Mary, evidently and quite contrary, was a UNCOP & automatically made a minister in Kamla’s cabinet in 2010! T&T, is not a country that has the social and economic infrastructure to accomadate limitless refugess from Venezuela, whose population is tens of millions times that of its own…Transparency international knows this and yet it publicizes this propaganda on the elections’ eve! The UNCOP has a track record of using a multi-pronged approach to undermine T&T’s sovereignty in order to gain office.Remember UNC leader panday’s remarks in 2009 (some say threat)?

    https://www.guardian.co.tt/article-6.2.319684.5fa2465b8b

    http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=5279

    https://www.guardian.co.tt/news/honduras-coup-warning-for-ttpanday-6.2.317681.4efb0c6a48

    • *previous post error*…AMNESTY International’s T&T chapter,, not tranparency international’s, wrote the “xenophobia” propaganda on elections’ eve! (UNCOP ‘s not-so hidden hand)

      Accusing T&T’s government of xenophobia was the showing of a UNC Slip! Really? where was Amnesty international’s T&T CHAPTER’s report on xenophobia and racism when continental africans were being deported between 2010-2015? How come their report doesn’t mention Xenophobia, when Dominican refugees were being rallied AGAINST by the UNC in 2017?Is it politically biased, selective, racially biased outrage? An honest report by Amnesty international, would reflect a COMPREHENSIVE look at T&T’s opposition forces and their behaviour.

      http://www.trinidadandtobagonews.com/blog/?p=10276

      • #GandhiMustFall thanks for the links. We Trinbagonians must never allow outsiders to bring division into our country. Imagine that we helped these Venes and now we being accused of being racist against them, I will bet good money that Venezuela just as most of latin america has a skin colour complex, as in light skin is favoured over black skin, how many of these Venes look down on black or indian Trinbagonians, we don’t know, nobody ever even asked the question, we just assume that because they coming here that they must love us. I am of course not accusing all of them of having such negative ideas about our people. Trinidad and Tobago is not Germany, we do not have their refugee infrastructure, physical size or the organizational ability to deal with something of this magnitude, we can’t even fix our own so called crime hotspots and yet we should allow new ghettos to be created in our country (There are some places where Venes just put up structures, no water nothing, what will these places become 20years from now?). Imagine a burglar break into your house, you call police, the police come hold him, you feel sorry for him, you say ”officer he crying, he apologize, I not pressing charges”, the officer say ”press charges?no no, we are giving him the keys to your house, you have 10 mins, pack what you want to keep and leave”. LMAO. Let me end like this Trinidad and Tobago is Trinidad and Tobago, not Trinidad, Tobago and Venezuela, yes the country name sounds Spanish but nothing here is Spanish except Christmas music and that is more nostalgia than anything else.

  2. Amnesty International doesn’t have T&T’s best interests at heart, it is very simple Trinidad and Tobago has 1.3 million people, Venezuela has 33million people, we cannot become the catchment point for 33million Venezuelans, we have to nip this in the bud. Venezuela is under biting US sanctions, these sanctions affect everything in that country, they love to point out that medical supplies are not sanctioned but what bank will risk pissing off the USA in order to do that transaction. Our borders are CLOSED, yet Venezuelans continue to break into our country, such actions are a threat to our national security and even more so during a pandemic, our own citizens can’t get in and these foreigners violate common decency by exposing our population to whatever virus is in Venezuela. Trinbagonians of all backrgounds must stand together and reject these garbage accusations against our country. If we make the mistake to allow any Venezuelan who enters to become a refugee like in Germany then get ready for TT to become a spanish country, a province of Venezuela, get ready for socialism and the predictable US sanctions etc. Our nation is an independent country, our laws are made by the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago not Amnesty International mouthpieces.