Relatives of two women with eight children and two orphans of a former Islamic State (IS) Trinidadian fighter will have to wait until at least January to learn the fate of their lawsuit against the Ministry of National Security over its alleged failure to answer their requests to have their relatives repatriated from the Al-Hol refugee camp in northern Syria.
The case was set to go on trial before Justice Joan Charles, yesterday morning, but the parties were informed via email that the hearing was deferred.
Charles gave the parties deadlines for filing their submissions, which were expected to be presented before her yesterday, and said she would deliver her judgement on January 27, provided that they stick to the timeline given.
Through the lawsuit, the relatives are seeking to compel the ministry through National Security Minister Stuart Young to make a decision on whether or not they would be allowed or denied admission into T&T at a later date.
The group comprises of a 33-year-old woman and her children ages six and 11; a 35-year-old woman and her children ages three, five, 10, 12, and 14 (youngest two born in Syria) and two orphans, ages three and four.
The relatives cannot be identified to protect the identities of the children, who are still minors.
The camp, controlled by Kurdish forces, houses over 14,000 refugees from over 60 countries, who came to the region to join the IS and have been displaced since its collapse.
Most residents have been experiencing the same difficulties in returning home as their countries also mull over their proposed repatriations.
In the group’s legal correspondence sent before the case was filed, their lawyers noted that they did not receive a meaningful response from the ministry after writing three times in late July.
Stating that their clients have T&T citizenship or T&T lineage, in the case of the orphans and some of the women’s children who were born in Syria, they said that they are entitled to return home under local immigration laws and international refugee policies.
“In international human rights law, the basic principle underlying voluntary repatriation is the right to return to one’s own country. As a collar of that right, states are duty-bound to admit their nationals and cannot compel another state to keep them,” they said.
The group is being represented by Elton Prescott, SC, Criston J Williams and Kerrina Samdeo, while Reginald Armour, SC, Rishi Dass, Vanessa Gopaul, and Laura Persad are representing the State.