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Takesha Clairmont talks about the financial and psychological trauma from being stranded and out of the country for nine months

A mother of eight from east Port-of-Spain, who was left stranded abroad for almost six months on her first trip outside of T&T, has sued the State for compensation.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday, lawyers representing Takeisha Clairmont, 41, of East Dry River, Port-of-Spain, contend the Government acted illegally and breached her constitutional rights by closing the country’s borders under public health regulations for the COVID-19 pandemic since March.

According to the court filings, Clairmont’s legal team, led by Anand Ramlogan SC, is claiming the Government was required to amend the country’s immigration laws to effect the change as opposed to using the regulations, which are executed without parliamentary scrutiny.

“There is no power to refuse a citizen the right to enter the country,” they said, as they noted that immigration laws provide for foreigners with infectious diseases being barred entry but not locals.

“As indicated above, there are other powers available to deal with isolating or quarantining citizens whilst tests are done. To leave them stranded abroad for months on end is arbitrary, cruel and unnecessary.”

They claimed the policy breached Clairmont’s constitutional rights to liberty, protection of the law, freedom of movement, and freedom from arbitrary detention, imprisonment or exile.

They also noted that there would be strong public interest in the case, as there were still hundreds of citizens in similar circumstances stranded abroad.

In addition to compensation for Clairmont’s pain and suffering, the lawyers are also seeking an order declaring the regulations which deal with the closure of the boarders null and void.

The case is expected to come up for hearing for the first time before Justice Kevin Ramcharan this afternoon.

In an affidavit, Clairmont said fellow stranded citizens started a GoFundMe account to raise the $33,000 required so she could travel to Barbados before coming to T&T.

The part-time Unemployment Relief Programme (URP) worker claimed the situation also affect her financially, as her husband had to leave his job as a security guard to care for their children in her absence. She also claimed furniture she purchased on hire purchase was repossessed.