Victory for Attorney General: Defeating constitutional motion to cause return from Syrian refugee camps

The Attorney-General is pleased to receive today (April 26, 2021) a written ruling delivered by the High Court of Justice

The Attorney-General is pleased to receive today (April 26, 2021) a written ruling delivered by the High Court of Justice
The Attorney-General is pleased to receive today (April 26, 2021) a written ruling delivered by the High Court of Justice

Trinidad and Tobago: The Attorney-General is pleased to receive today (April 26, 2021) a written ruling delivered by the High Court of Justice, which clarified the law on the obligations of the state towards citizens who voluntarily leave Trinidad and Tobago and travel to and are detained in conflict/war zones.

The decision affirms the government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s (GORTT’s) thrust in the determination to fight the ravages of the global pandemic whilst protecting the reputation of Trinidad and Tobago in the international intelligence community, as well as the resultant safety and security of its population.

In her written ruling, Madam Justice Charles dismissed the claim by Tamjeed Ali and Saheed Mohammed in Claim No.CV2020-02279(Tamjeed Ali and Saheed Mohammed v the Minister of National Security and the Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago) on behalf of several women and children who are currently in the Al Hol refugee camp in Syria. These persons were seeking to compel the State to make a decision to facilitate their repatriation to Trinidad and Tobago.

The Court accepted that the repatriation of persons from conflict/war zones, such as Syria, involve national security considerations, an international collaboration of foreign immigration or intelligence agencies and diplomatic relations. It held that these were matters of policy that fall within the exclusive purview of the state since it is best positioned to treat with these complex issues and that the Court would defer to the State on the issues.

The Attorney-General wishes to highlight the Court’s acceptance of the GORTT’s diplomatic relations with Syria but noted that the persons claiming to be citizens of Trinidad and Tobago are located in camps that are not controlled by the Syrian Government. The court further held that the women and children were detained in the Al Hol refugee camp in Syria in circumstances outside of the control of the state, and as such, their constitutional rights were not infringed by the state.

Consequently, the Court dismissed the claim and ordered the claimants to pay the State’s legal costs.

The claimants were represented by Elton Prescott SC, Criston Williams and Kerrina Samdeo, with Nafeesa Mohammed also appearing in court. The State was represented by Reginald Armour SC, Vanessa Gopaul, Rishi Dass and Laura Persad.

The Attorney General assures the public that the GORRT continues to fight against the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic and the protection of the safety and security of the population of Trinidad and Tobago.