Port of Spain, Trinidad (CMC) — The Trinidad and Tobago Government has defended its decision to spend TT$2.6 million (One TT dollar = US$0.16 cents) to charter a plane to deport 15 illegal Ghana nationals saying that it was difficult to get visas for the men to travel back to their country through commercial flights.
The Ghanaians were deported following a marathon 12 hour court case on Saturday by lawyers to prevent their deportation.
National Security Minister Gary Griffith told the Trinidad Express newspaper that there were 100,000 illegal immigrants here, whom he said were draining the country’s resources. He also accused some of them of being involved in criminal activities.
“The matter has to be dealt with and we cannot bury our heads in the sand. What was done was done within the law,’’ said Griffith, adding that the deportees can re-apply to be regularised.
Attorney General Anand Ramlogan denied that the coalition People’s Partnership Government was engaged in a witch hunt against immigrants.
“The rule of law has prevailed and the process was followed. A historic emergency session of the High Court and Court of the Appeal was necessary to avoid any further delay and unwarranted expenditure that can surpass two million dollars,” he said.
“This is not a witch hunt, we are asking persons to come forward and we are providing them with the opportunity to be regularised,” said Ramlogan, who also said that some of the illegal immigrants had a track record related to criminal activities.
“Our intelligence suggests that there are many dimensions to this problem, including links to the gangs, drugs, arms and other crimes that have plagued our society.”
But attorney Faris Scoon described the move to deport the African nationals as unjust and unhumanitarian.
He said some of the men deported have been living here for more than 10 years and have Trinidadian wives and children here.
“I think that is harsh, oppressive, unjust, inhumane and unhumanitarian conduct. Quite frankly, I am ashamed to be a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago on account of what our immigration policies are,” said Scoon.
Earlier the men had tried to challenge the deportation order of the chief immigration officer but failed.
Justice Ricky Rahim rejected their applications and also ruled that they pay the State’s legal costs.
Their attorneys immediately appealed Justice Rahim’s ruling and proceeded to the Court of Appeal, where Justice Gregory Smith heard the matter and also dismissed all the applications and ordered that the deportation order be executed.