Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Commodore Darryl Daniel has facilitated the release of six Venezuelan asylum seekers including four children after their lawyers threatened to bring contempt of court proceedings against him for allegedly breaching a court order on their prolonged detention.
According to reports, the issue with the migrant relatives began on August 2, when they were arrested by police at Jacob Alley in Santa Flora, and placed on 14-day quarantine orders.
When the period elapsed and the group remained detained, their relatives hired a group of lawyers led by Gerald Ramdeen and filed habeas corpus applications questioning why their release was delayed well past the stipulated quarantine period.
On Saturday afternoon, the applications came up for emergency virtual hearing before Justice Margaret Mohammed, who upheld them and ordered the group’s immediate release on supervision orders.
The State was also ordered to pay the group’s legal costs for bringing the lawsuit.
In a letter issued on Monday evening, Ramdeen claimed that shortly after he obtained Mohammed’s order, he served it at the headquarters of the T&T Defence Force (TTDF) and attempted to execute it at the organisation’s Heliport Facility in Chaguaramas, where the group was being held along with other Venezuelan detainees.
Ramdeen claimed that he made several calls to senior officers and attempted to get information from an unidentified masked officer at the entry to the facility but was denied.
After leaving the location, Ramdeen was allegedly contacted by a senior TTDF officer, who informed him that the matter was being investigated and dealt with.
The process was not completed until Monday evening after Ramdeen had already dispatched his letter threatening contempt of court.
“It is inconceivable that you, being the head of the TTDF, would even contemplate disobedience to an order of the court, more so to six orders of the court. That you would conduct yourself in a manner in relation to the release of four minors who are being held unlawfully without authority is shocking,” Ramdeen said.
Stating that the action was contemptuous, unlawful, and unconstitutional, Ramdeen noted that the matter would be brought to the attention of the local office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as his clients are registered with that organisation.
As Daniel eventually complied with the court orders, Ramdeen and his clients will no longer pursue their proposed course of action, through which they were seeking Daniel’s committal to prison for his alleged non-compliance.
The group was also represented by Dayadai Harripaul, while Reginald Armour, SC, Ravi Rajcoomar, Rishi Dass, and Raphael Ajodha represented the CDS.