Members of the controversial Orthodox Jewish sect Lev Tahor have appealed an order by the T&T Government to have them deported back to Canada.In confirming this yesterday, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said the group made the appeal to Chief Immigration Officer Gerry Downes in accordance with Section 21 (2) of the Immigration Act.
"This is an interesting and important development and I have no doubt the chief immigration officer would deal with the matter expeditiously to challenge this decision and to have them return to Canada," Ramlogan said.On when a decision would be made by Downes, Ramlogan said that was up to Downes, but said he expected a decision within the shortest possible time.
The group, three adults and six children, arrived at the Piarco Airport on Monday. The remained under protective custody at the Piarco Hotel up to yesterday, with officials not allowing them free access to the outside world.Ramlogan said the children were the subject of a child protection order in the province of Quebec and the Government was liaising with its Canadian counterparts to facilitate their swift return.
"We have been liaising with the Canadian authorities through the Central Authority and the Civil Child Abduction Authority in the Office of the Attorney General with a view to have the group returned to Canada."There is a child protection order issued by a competent court in Quebec with regard to the custody, care and control of the children which appeared to have been violated, he said."And therefore we are committed to ensuring the rule of law is upheld," Ramlogan said.
He said National Security Minister Gary Griffith was doing all that was possible to ensure the group is comfortable and properly taken care of while in Trinidad.The group has requested passage to Guatemala, and immigration officials said they believed they ended up in Trinidad by mistake because they missed their flight to Mexico.
A report in the Toronto Star said members of the sect have been under investigation by Quebec police and child protection authorities for years. It added child protection authorities had documented what they said was evidence of physical abuse, poor mental and physical health and a substandard education regime. The sect has denied all allegations of abuse.