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Repatriated Venezuelan migrants are returned to a Venezuelan navy vessel from the T&T Coast Guard, yesterday.

The Ministry of National Security has repatriated 35 of the 39 Venezuelans who came to T&T on Saturday on a vessel involved in an incident that resulted in the death of a baby.

However, attorneys representing Venezuelan the migrants are demanding to know why the Ministry deported “witnesses in the investigation into the toddlers’ death.”

The ministry said in a statement that, in keeping with established protocols between the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard and its Venezuelan counterparts, a repatriation exercise was completed at the border between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela yesterday.

“Persons on this repatriation exercise included 35 of the 39 Venezuelan nationals, who had entered Trinidad and Tobago illegally on 6 February 2022,” the statement said.

The Coast Guard said the main operational unit in this exercise ensured that all of its efforts were in keeping with the highest standards of professional conduct, consistent with the government’s policy and the laws of T&T.

The migrants were taken to Guiria where they will meet with family members and return to Tucupita, Venezuela.

However, attorney Criston J Williams of Criston J Williams and Company told Guardian Media that he wanted to know whether the investigation announced in Parliament had been concluded and what information could be given to justify their return if the investigation was concluded.

He added if the investigation was concluded it should be made public.

Williams said when they spoke to their clients Thursday they were being interviewed by Coast Guard officials.

“We also know that they were not interviewed by members of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service. We want to know what the Acting Commissioner of Police, McDonald Jacob has to say about this because someone died and there must be an investigation by the police,” he said.

He added that as a member state and beneficiary of the United Nations, he believed these circumstances could lead to a risk assessment of our human rights record.

This would entail an analysis of our compliance or noncompliance with international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law, including any specific record of grave violations, he said.

The Venezuelan migrants entered Trinidad and Tobago waters illegally on Saturday night when they were intercepted by the Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard reported that they tried to get the vessel to stop several times using an air horn, searchlights and flares, without success.

They said warning shots were also fired but the vessel continued to try to evade capture.

The Coast Guard claimed the vessel tried to ram a smaller boat deployed by the TTS Scarborough several times, causing the officers to fire shots at the boat’s engine to stop it.

When the boat stopped, baby Ya Elvis Santoyo was discovered shot in the head and his mother wounded.

Prior to the repatriation, the law firm had sent a letter to the Ministry of National Security on instructions of the migrants who were detained at the Chaguaramas Heliport, giving Minister Fitzgerald Hinds 24 hours to respond to a legal letter requesting urgent refugee status in light of the weekend’s tragedy.