Hinds: New law will facilitate return of Trinis stuck in Syria camps

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds. – File photo

FRESH legislation will be brought to Parliament to enable the return to Trinidad and Tobago of the families of men who went to Syria to fight for Islamic State (ISIS), Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds told the Senate on Tuesday in reply to a motion on the adjournment by Opposition Senator Wade Mark.

Mark had urged their repatriation, vowing that if not done now, it would be done by a future UNC government.

Hinds began by saying Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar was “very populist” and would say and do anything if she thought it would win her a few votes.

He said the Government’s policy was to allow repatriation, unlike some countries which disallowed it or which prosecute returning adults and send their children for rehabilitation.

“We have said we will bring our children home.

“We have engaged with our international partners because this has international implications.”

Hinds said the Government had a Returnees Bill which would manage the safe return of the TT nationals in line with best international practice.

The Government has set up a three-person repatriation committee and has employed two individuals as support staff. He said a proper administration and management of returnees was essential, even as the safety of TT citizens was of the utmost importance.

Saying such repatriation was a “highly sensitive, emotive and complex” issue, Hinds said it must be done in such a way as to balance the needs of the returnees with the needs of the population and national security.

“Some of these people are severely radicalised,” he said.

Saying the Prime Minister had taken the bold decision towards repatriation, he said this was best done by a State to State approach. The three-person repatriation committee would consider the perspectives of families, individuals and communities. The committee might be given a stipend to help with minor expenses, Hinds said.

He said the Government was responsible and was behaving in a very patient and very clear manner. Rather than being populist, the Government was taking the national interest interest into account, to behave as “a sober and sensible government.

“We are proceeding apace,” Hinds said.