Police from the South Western Division Task Force (SWDTF) held 11 Venezuelans on Thursday, the day after police arrested 15 near a beach in Erin.
In response to the recent detentions, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) issued a statement expressing deep concern on Friday. Some of the detainees are women and children under two who may be possible victims of trafficking, it said.
The CCHR said returning them may place them at further risk of exploitation, violence, and contracting covid19.
“Crises continue to force Venezuelans to leave their country, seeking international protection due to threats to their lives and fear of persecution.
“These vulnerabilities place them at heightened risk of exploitation and human trafficking. Taking covid19 precautions into account, the CCHR calls for a measured solution that places human rights first.”
The organisation commended the government for its response to the pandemic and its efforts at mitigating the risk to public health by quarantining Venezuelans. It further said it appreciates government’s commitment to investigating the alleged perpetrators of human trafficking.
The statement quoted CCHR’s chairman Diana Mahabir-Wyatt as saying, “CCHR urges the government to adhere to international human rights standards and principles to safeguard the rights of these people, and to work with stakeholders and civil society to do so.”
The organisation said a human rights-based approach should require victims of trafficking being informed about their right to request international protection, and it should also allow them to be able to access fair and efficient asylum procedures.
“These vulnerable people should be provided with access to necessary support and services, including access to legal services, safe shelter, and psycho-social support.
“CCHR remains committed to continuing our collaborative relationship with international organisations, civil society, government, and other key stakeholders.”
Police arrested the latest batch in an anti-crime exercise led by ASP Ramdeen, Cpls Lake, Prince and George.
A release on Friday from the police said the officers received information and went to Number 4 Road in Palo Seco. On arrival, they saw several people running into some bushes.
They found the 11 illegal immigrants and a TT national. Police took them to the Siparia district health facility where a doctor examined them. They were then taken to the Chaguaramas heliport, after which they were to be placed under a 14-day mandatory quarantine.
On Wednesday, SWDTF police detained 15 Venezuelans in a similar exercise at Erin. A report said the officers received information and went to Los Iros beach where they saw several people disembarking from a boat. They searched nearby bushes and detained them. They too were taken to the health facility then to be quarantine.
Even as the country’s borders remained closed owing to the covid19 pandemic, Venezuelans continue to enter hoping for better lives.
In Tobago, police from the Crown Point station, CID, and the Immigration Department arrested 18 at guest houses. One is at Gaskin Bay Road, Bon Accord, and the other at Alfred Crescent, Bon Accord.
Snr Supt Sterling Roberts co-ordinated the exercise, which Insp Campbell led and Sgt Sterling supervised.