Our hands tied with repatriation process

- Immigration Officers on riot at IDC

(Trinidad & Tobago Guardian): Immigration Officers yesterday said that while the situation at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) in Aripo is a very sensitive one they added that “their hands are tied” with respect to speeding up the repatriation process.

In fact, some officers claimed that they are not even being briefed by the acting Chief Immigration Officer, Charmaine Ghandi-Andrews, as to the status of the repatriation process of all nationals at the IDC.

“We are told that it is up to the Government to have the detainees repatriated and we are being told that it is too expensive of a procedure and that the Government can’t afford it,” one officer, who wished not to be identified, said

He added that because illegal immigrants are being detained and brought into the system almost on a daily basis, the recently refurbished centre is “already overcrowded.”

Over the years, there have been cries that detainees’ rights are being violated at the IDC.

In the past week, on two separate occasions, frustrated detainees including Africans, Venezuelans and Europeans have attempted to protest in a bid to voice their disgust over the system, inhumane conditions and inhumane treatment by the relevant authorities.

The detainees, through their respective attorneys, have claimed that they are denied water, good food and medication.

On Thursday, some 10 Nigerian detainees, who staged a protest and confronted two Immigration Officers were arrested by police officers.

Up to late yesterday, it was not confirmed as to whether or not any charges were laid against them.

Minister of National Security, Edmund Dillon, on Wednesday assured the T&T Guardian that he will attempt to find out about an incident that occurred earlier this week involving seven Venezuelans who were also engage in protest and confrontation with officers.

Attempts to reach him again on the issue following Wednesday’s incident proved futile.

Gandhi-Andrews is currently out of the country on training and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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