UN refugee team to meet with T&T prime minister

UNDP Resident Coordinator Richard Blewitt.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres is sending a team to Trinidad and Tobago to inquire into Prime Minister Dr. Keith Rowley’s complaint about criticism from its United Nations representative in Trinidad and Tobago on the repatriation of 82 Venezuelans.

Attorney General Stuart Young made this announcement at a recent post-cabinet press conference.

He said Rowley sent the letter to the United Nations secretary general pointing out the government’s position on the voluntary repatriation exercise and expressing discomfort and disappointment on the UN representative’s statements.

United Nations representative Richard Blewit recently expressed concern over the deportation process, which Rowley claimed was “misinformation” and said he would complain to the United Nations about the comments from its representatives.

He said there is a legal process to be followed by all potential migrants.

Young said Trinidad and Tobago’s ambassador at the United Nations, Penelope Beckles, also conveyed Trinidad and Tobago’s concerns and lodged a request with the UN secretary general for a call with Rowley. There was a tele-conference the next day.

The acting attorney general said in the conversation Rowley defended Trinidad and Tobago in the repatriation issue, saying Trinidad and Tobago did everything according to laws and felt aggrieved that a United Nations representative, rather than consult with the government to ascertain what occurred, went ahead and criticized Trinidad and Tobago.

Young said Guterres acknowledged Trinidad and Tobago’s position and noted that United Nations records showed Trinidad and Tobago has about 40,000 Venezuelans in Trinidad and Tobago and the government had treated them with dignity and respect.

The United Nations secretary general said he would send senior officials from the United Nations’s High Commission on Refugees (UNCHR) in Geneva to meet with the government to ascertain what occurred, ensure the right facts are out forward and if there were some misrepresentations, that these would be dealt with.

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