UN - TRINIDAD and TOBAGO (22 Dec. 2017)
"Trinidad and Tobago's position as a leader in the Caribbean has been demonstrated through its commitment to creating a system of refugee protection" states United Nations Resident Coordinator for Trinidad and Tobago, Richard Blewitt. The United Nations recognises Trinidad and Tobago's commitment in its creation of the Refugee Policy in 2014, which is the first step towards the development of a national asylum system.
The Refugee Policy sets out a three-phased process to develop a national asylum system which, in its implementation, would acknowledge and support the basic human rights of asylum-seekers and recognised refugees as indicated in the Refugee Convention (United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees).
Although the Government, with the support of the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), is progressing in the implementation of the Policy, the access to basic services needed to support a life with dignity remains a challenge for many asylum-seekers in Trinidad and Tobago. The UN recognises the frustration at the limited range of solutions available to refugee and asylum-seekers that has been expressed in the demonstration outside the United Nations House during the past several months. Accordingly, legislation must also be introduced that would codify the rights of refugees and asylum-seekers, establish their legal status, and clarify the options available to them.
The implementation of the asylum-system and its supporting legislation will provide opportunities for refugees to integrate and contribute productively to the society in Trinidad and Tobago through the provision of legal documentation and access to work, education, and health services. Until the necessary legislation is passed, the UNHCR will continue to work with its partners and the Government to develop interim solutions for refugees and asylum-seekers here in Trinidad and Tobago.
"The Caribbean is not immune to the refugee crisis occurring in the rest of the world," says UNHCR Protection Officer, Ruben Barbado, "and we value the actions taken by States such as Trinidad and Tobago to honour the commitments of the Refugee Convention." Such commitments serve to protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees so they can rebuild their lives and contribute to creating a stronger, more inclusive society for all.
Press release issued by the United Nations in Trinidad and Tobago on 22 December 2017