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(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, deeply regrets the deportation this past weekend by Trinidad and Tobago of 82 Venezuelan nationals.
The 82 include registered asylum-seekers and individuals who had declared an intention to apply for refugee status, making their return to Venezuela a breach of international refugee law.
“The forced return of this group is of great concern,” said Volker Türk, UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection. “We are in contact with the authorities and are seeking clarification on the legal process which has led to the deportations of this group, to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago continues to abide by its international obligations.”
The group, which had been held in detention in Trinidad and Tobago, was deported from the country on Saturday despite UNHCR’s request for access to the individuals concerned and written interventions.
UNHCR calls on Trinidad and Tobago to continue to abide by its international obligations as signatories to the 1951 Refugee Convention and other applicable international instruments that are incorporated into its official Refugee Policy, in particular the principle of non-return, known as non-refoulement, and Article 31 of the Convention which requests signatories “not to impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence” to people who are in need of international protection.
UNHCR will continue working closely with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to complement its efforts aimed at developing, strengthening and implementing its asylum policy, as well as to support host communities, while offering guidance and assistance to people in need of international protection.