Jamaican loses deportation challenge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Piarco International Airport. – File photo by Roger Jacob

A JAMAICAN man who challenged his deportation and dismissal of an appeal by the National Security Minister has lost his lawsuit against the State.

Justice Jacqueline Wilson dismissed Mark Anthony Letts’ application for judicial review against a decision by immigration officials to dismiss his appeal.

Wilson said after reading the minutes of the hearing of the appeal at the special inquiry, the minister took into account all the relevant matters before coming to a decision. She also said Letts did not provide evidence that the minister’s decision to dismiss the appeal was unreasonable.

Letts arrived in Trinidad on November 16, 2009, to attend a wedding. He married a Trinidadian woman in November 2014, two weeks after she gave birth to their child.

On June 15, 2021, he applied for permanent residency. His lawsuit contended he was advised to return to Jamaica for a certificate of good character and he returned to Trinidad on May 14, 2023, but was refused entry.

He appealed and a special inquiry was held two days later, after which a deportation order was made against him. Letts was then released on an order of supervision and on July 18, 2023, the minister dismissed his appeal. He claimed he was not allowed to present his case and the minister failed to consider his application for residency status or that his son is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago.

In his lawsuit, his lawyers contended Letts’ denial of entry amounted to a breach of his right to free movement under Article 45 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (RTC) and that he was treated less favourably because of his nationality.

In defence of his claim, attorneys for the State contended that Letts, on his first visit to Trinidad and Tobago more than a decade ago, had overstayed his time and had previously worked in the country without a work permit or work permit exemption certificate nor did he have a CSME certificate.

In her ruling, Wilson said Letts had not established that the High Court could enforce the rights he claimed he had under the RTC.

That, she said, was a question of law to be referred to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

In dismissing his application, Wilson also ordered Letts to pay the State’s costs to be assessed by a registrar.

The minister, who was named as the defendant in the application, was represented by attorneys Stefan Jaikaran, Gayatri Dass and Radha Sookdeo.

Letts was represented by Tamara Gregorio and Siddiq Manzano.