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Venzuelan refugees wait in a shed on Los Iros beach, Erin, for a police transport to take them out of the area after they arrived yesterday.

Derek Achong

Lawyers representing a group of Venezuelan migrant women and children who returned to this country on Tuesday after being controversially deported on Sunday have filed lawsuits to secure their release pending substantive ligation over their treatment by local authorities.

In the court filings obtained by Guardian Media, the legal team led by attorney Gerard Ramdeen claimed that the actions of state officials breached constitutional rights to liberty, protection of the law and privacy and family life, which are guaranteed to any person within T&T including illegal migrants.

They also alleged that the action breached several international treaties and the National Policy to address Refugees and Asylum, which was created in 2014 and was not abolished.

“A person detained and more so a child retains all his rights and obligations save for those which are eclipsed by the power that is granted to detain. It is a most flagrant and abhorrent abuse of power for the Respondent, its servants and or agents to use the power to deport in a manner so as to prevent the Claimant from having access to the Court to seek protection and the enforcement of his guaranteed rights under the Constitution and under international law and the international obligations of the State,” Ramdeen said in the filings.

Guardian Media understands that the cases were transferred to High Court Judge Avason Quinlan-Williams, who heard their initial legal challenge and was forced to dismiss it after she was informed that they were out of T&T’s territorial waters. Quinlan-Williams is expected to host an emergency hearing later today.

The group was detained shortly after arriving in Chatam.

The migrants, the youngest of which is four-months-old, were tested for COVID-19 and were all found to be negative. They were then held in custody at several police stations until their deportation on Sunday morning when they were placed on two civilian vessels and escorted out of T&T waters by the Coast Guard.

Although Quinlan-Williams ordered that the group be brought before her during a hearing on Monday, state attorneys informed her that they could not comply as they were already out of the jurisdiction.

The group landed in Los Iros on Tuesday afternoon and was immediately detained by police and taken for a medical examination.

The migrants are also being represented by Nafeesa Mohammed, Dayadai Harripaul, and Umesh Maharaj.