Press Release

IACHR grants protection measures to six migrant children in Trinidad and Tobago

December 9, 2020

   Related links

   Contact info

IACHR Press Office

   More on the IACHR
A+ A-

Washington, D.C. – On December 9th, 2020 the Inter American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued the Resolution 93/2020 granting precautionary measures to six migrant children in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the request, the proposed beneficiaries are at imminent risk of being deported to Venezuela without a due analysis of their particular situations, where they allegedly face risk to their rights to life and personal integrity.

The request was initially submitted in favor of 10 more children who were, with the beneficiaries and other adults, deported from Trinidad and Tobago, on November 22nd, 2020, on pirogues into international waters, “forced to navigate in the direction of Venezuela,” even though they had a pending legal request to review their situation. Having returned to Trinidad and Tobago, the children alleged obtained “uneven” responses from courts to their protection requests, while some were granted permission to stay until their application is reviewed, others, such as the beneficiaries, could be deported after the end of the quarantine they were submitted, on December 8th, 2020.

The Commission observed in this matter that the six children have alleged that they face risks to their life and personal integrity upon their return to Venezuela ‒including, for instance, domestic abuse. The IACHR noted that their allegations are compatible with the information gathered through the IACHR’s monitoring work, which has identified that “the impact of the severe food and health crisis has particularly impacted groups in situations of exclusion and historical discrimination, such as children and adolescents, […]”. Hence, it concluded that their deportation without any assessment of their particular situations can, in principle, present a serious risk.

Moreover, the Commission highlighted that lack of the referred assessment encompasses further risks of irreparable harm in light of their specific vulnerabilities as children, and prevents an analysis on their best interest and the particular protection needs of the beneficiaries who are unaccompanied. In addition, the IACHR took into account that, in the present matter, the beneficiaries have already been deported from Trinidad and Tobago before a due analysis of their particular circumstances and alleged risks was carried out, and even though legal proceedings were pending. The Commission notes, with great concern, that the deportation was carried out by placing children and other adults on pirogues into international waters, which by its on nature, entails a serious risk to their lives.

The Commission has equally observed that the proposed beneficiaries were allegedly declared to be “undesirable” by a high State authority upon their return to Trinidad and, as it is of public knowledge, recent further declarations by high authorities, indicated that unregistered migrants will be deported, including affirmations that state “[w]e are not putting up a flag saying all children can come here.” In this context, the potential beneficiaries are in a situation of uncertainty regarding a potential immediate deportation without due assessment of their situation and best interest, which in the present case poses a serious risk to their life and personal integrity.

The Commission regrets that no response has been received from the State, since it prevents further assessment of whether the applicants’ allegations may be rebutted, especially considering that the beneficiaries are under the custody of the State and its special obligations to protect children.

Consequently, pursuant to Article 25 of its Rules of Procedure, the Commission requested that Trinidad and Tobago adopt the necessary measures to guarantee the rights to life and personal integrity of V.A.L.F.; M.A.C.F.; J.A.C.F.; M.S.C.F.; M.V.V.C. and J.A.R.M. In particular, by refraining from deporting or expelling them to Venezuela until the domestic authorities have duly assessed, in accordance with applicable international standards, the alleged risks faced.

The fact that this precautionary measure has been granted and its adoption by the State do not entail a prejudgment on a potential petition that may be filed before the Inter-American system to allege violations of rights protected by the applicable instruments.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 293/20