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Kambon: Immigration detainees being abused

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chairman of the Emancipation Support Committee Khafra Kambon is demanding an urgent and immediate investigation into claims that police have abused detainees at the Immigration Detention Centre, Aripo. The call follows an alleged incident on July 21 when Kambon said police were called to the centre and severely beat several detainees, who later had to be taken for treatment. In a release yesterday, Kambon said the committee was “absolutely appalled” by the reports of the violent attack.


While the majority of the inmates are said to come from the Caribbean, there are a few from African countries, of whom a handful are married to T&T nationals. Ghanaian Musa Ibrahaim and Guyanese Nurse Shaun were reportedly seriously injured in the incident on Monday, and a Nigerian  was reported to have been injured in a similar incident several days before. 



Acknowledging the detainees had been protesting the length of time they had been detained without any end in sight, Kambon stressed the action had been noisy but not violent. He wrote: “Detainees are angry because they are not there for criminal offences. Overstaying the allotted time in a country is not a criminal offence. “Voluntary departure to Caricom countries is an easy option open to Immigration authorities.


“Even if there was an insistence on deportation, where the responsibility to pay would be on the State, the costs to deport persons to Caricom countries do not justify indefinite detention. “There are even cases where persons have valid return tickets to their countries and they remain incarcerated.”


He added: “One of the aggravating factors for Caricom nationals is that they are seeing individuals from outside the Caricom region come and go very quickly while their detentions continue in violation, not only of their individual human rights, but the very spirit of Caricom agreements. “Some of the persons who have left them behind indicated before their release they would be out shortly because they had paid money to officials for their release. 


“These complaints have also been frequently made by African nationals, the group that consistently endures the longest periods of detention, in a few cases extending beyond three years.” Referring to the Nigerian man who was beaten days before Monday’s incident, Kambon said he was married to a T&T national, with whom he had four children. 


Kambon claimed the man suffered a head injury during the attack  after “his detention was extended for more than two months after his release had been ordered by the Minister in the Ministry of National Security, Honourable Embau Moheni.” Describing the incident as “bloody,” Kambon urged the authorities to act now and order the release of detainees married to T&T nationals and to initiate the regularisation process.


Advocating for the release of immigrants detained for more than six months on humanitarian grounds, Kambon also called for the deportation process to be speeded up, especially for people who did not have ties to T&T. 


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