A prominent Trinidadian attorney, Christian J. Williams, said he had written to the Trinidad and Tobago government requesting the return of more than 50 nationals living in what it called “dire” conditions in Syria.
He said that the 70 people, including 50 children, are nationals of the country and the state must recognize the individual’s nationality and that it has a mandate to repatriate its citizens.
“For the past two years the government has been going around in circles (and) we need to draw a specific conclusion on this issue. For example, if it is that they don’t want to recognize our Trinidadian nationality, just come out as a statement and say it and that will solve all the problems, Williams said on radio station I955FM.
Earlier this year, the children and wives of men suspected of fighting for the Islamic State (IS) wrote to Prime Minister Rowley asking him to reflect on their plight and allow them to return home.
The Trinidadian had arrived at the camp in December 2018 as part of an exodus of people who had fled after a US-backed military campaign by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) conquered IS territory.
The government did not respond to the attorney’s most recent allegation, but in July Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi denied allegations that the government is not caring for nationals in refugee camps in Syria.
He said the government had drawn up a draft law on the return of citizens and the 2020 draft law (amendment) includes specific measures to treat nationals returning from conflict areas like Syria and other Middle Eastern countries.
Williams said efforts should be made to prevent the matter from going “without a hitch” at high cost to the taxpayer.
Williams said the winter season is approaching and conditions in the camps are deteriorating.
“All children, as I understand it, when they left Trinidad were under 14 years of age. Therefore, they would not be guilty of any crime for leaving with their parents.”
The lawyer told the radio listeners, “All the world’s conventions do not talk about imprisoning children … because it violates the fundamental rights of the child.
“If the children are guilty of a crime, just let the government bring the evidence that this child did it and then we take it from there,” said Williams, who also wrote a letter to Chief Immigration Officer, Charmaine Gandhi, had written -Andrews.