Trinidad Judge Orders release of Antigua and Barbuda national

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(Trinidad Guardian)

A High Court judge has or­dered the im­me­di­ate re­lease of a man from An­tigua and Bar­bu­da whose de­por­ta­tion was de­layed for over five months as he is await­ing tri­al for a se­ries of fraud and lar­ce­ny charges.

De­liv­er­ing a 16-page judg­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Jus­tice Vasheist Kokaram ruled that im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers did not have the pow­er to de­lay Troy Thomas’ de­por­ta­tion be­cause he had pend­ing crim­i­nal mat­ters.

“If in­deed it was ev­i­dent to the au­thor­i­ties that his de­por­ta­tion could not be ef­fect­ed with­in a rea­son­able pe­ri­od of time as a re­sult of his pend­ing crim­i­nal charges then he ought to have been re­leased,” Kokaram said.

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence in the case, Thomas was first de­tained by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials and or­dered to be de­port­ed on March 2, 2007.

With his ap­peal against the de­ci­sion pend­ing, Thomas was re­leased on a se­ries of su­per­vi­sion or­ders from the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion.

While on the or­ders, Thomas al­leged­ly com­mit­ted the fraud and lar­ce­ny of­fences and was re­leased on bail pend­ing the tri­als of the cas­es.

In Oc­to­ber last year, he was again de­tained by Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, who sought to im­me­di­ate­ly en­force the pre­vi­ous­ly stayed or­der, based on his re­peat­ed non-com­pli­ance.

How­ev­er, they opt­ed to not push through the de­por­ta­tion un­til it re­ceived ad­vice from the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) on the crim­i­nal charges.

In his claim, Thomas’ lawyer Ger­ald Ramdeen con­tend­ed that Thomas should not have been de­tained based on the crim­i­nal charges. He al­so con­tend­ed that he (Thomas) should have been de­port­ed by the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion and then ex­tra­dit­ed by the DPP’s Of­fice to face tri­al.

In his judg­ment, Kokaram agreed with Ramdeen’s analy­sis of what should have been done.

While Kokaram ruled that the di­vi­sion was jus­ti­fied in con­sid­er­ing the charges and the fact that Thomas had breached pre­vi­ous su­per­vi­sion or­ders, it had very lit­tle choice but grant him one if it did not plan to de­port him with­in a rea­son­able time.

“How­ev­er, even here the ev­i­dence demon­strates that the crim­i­nal courts have grant­ed the de­tainee bail and there­fore the idea of the de­tainee be­ing a flight risk or at risk of of­fend­ing does not on this ev­i­dence bear the hall­marks of cred­i­bil­i­ty,” Kokaram said.

As part of the judg­ment, Kokaram gave the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion ad­vice on han­dling such cas­es in the fu­ture.

He not­ed that de­por­ta­tion or­ders may on­ly be de­layed for a rea­son­able time in cir­cum­stances where the di­vi­sion is hav­ing is­sues in ex­e­cut­ing the or­der due to ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues.

How­ev­er, Kokaram not­ed that there was leg­is­la­tion al­ready in place for de­por­ta­tion to be de­layed in cir­cum­stances when a per­son has to serve a prison sen­tence be­fore.

The ad­vice was ac­cept­ed by Chief Im­mi­gra­tion Of­fi­cer Char­maine Gand­hi-An­drews, who was present in court along with sev­er­al se­nior im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers.

Ramdeen, who is an Op­po­si­tion Sen­a­tor, re­quest­ed that the judge­ment be sent to the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al’s of­fice as it is cur­rent­ly draft­ing amend­ments to lo­cal im­mi­gra­tion laws. Kokaram agreed and of­fered to send it to the Min­istry of Fi­nance as one of his rec­om­men­da­tions was for prop­er fund­ing be set aside to ef­fect de­por­ta­tions.

The de­ci­sion was not a to­tal de­feat for im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials are they are still per­mit­ted to re-de­tain Thomas, pro­vid­ed that they in­tend to de­port him with­in a rea­son­able time.

Thomas was al­so rep­re­sent­ed Umesh Ma­haraj and Dayadai Har­ri­paul, while Ebo Jones, Nicole Yee Fung and Rad­ha Sookdeo rep­re­sent­ed the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I don’t love to hear when Antiguans and Barbudans go abroad and committed criminal activities. Unless we are not defending our life, we need to give our country good name whenever we travel or migrated. The politicians have already doing a bad job in their decision making.

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