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Jews appeal order: under lockdown

Lawyer claims group being mistreated by authorities

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

ATTORNEYS representing the nine members of an orthodox Hasidic Jewish group, who were denied travel to Guatemala when they entered Trinidad and Tobago on Monday, have appealed their Immigration rejection order.

The group are currently staying at the Piarco International Hotel, which is under hea­vy security, while they await a decision on the appeal.

The front door to the hotel has been locked.

Persons arriving at the ho­tel are questioned by security.

Attorney General Anand Ram­logan yesterday confirmed the appeal and expressed confidence the Chief Immigration Officer would deal with the matter “expeditiously”.

Ramlogan however expressed “extreme concern” a child protection order is currently being breached in the matter.

On Monday, around 5 a.m., nine members of Lev Tahor arrived in Trinidad on board a WestJet flight.

The group, consisting of six children and three adults, were in transit to Guatemala, through Trinidad and Tobago, from Toronto, Canada, when they arrived at Piarco International Airport.

When Immigration officials interviewed the group, “inconsistencies in their responses” were discovered.

The group was rejected and advised of their inability to travel to Guatemala.

They refused to return to Can­ada.

Local attorney Farai Hove Masaisai, who specialises in immigration cases, was contacted on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, Masaisai filed an application for habeas corpus.

Justice Vashiest Kokaram heard the application on an “emergency basis” on Thursday and dismissed the application.

Speaking to the Express yesterday, Masaisai said while he was not successful in the application before Kokaram, the situation turned out favourable as he was able to meet with his clients.

Masaisai said Avrohom Din­kel, the group’s spokesman, expressed pleasure in being able to see him.

Dinkel, 22, is the only member of the group who speaks English fluently.

He is the only Canadian citizen among the group.

The other members of the group speak Yiddish.

The group has slammed the actions of this country’s Immigration.

“We all cry out to the public in Trinidad and Tobago not to give a hand for religious persecution against innocent girls, boys, mothers and fathers,” correspondence from a member of Lev Tahor stated.

In an interview on Thursday night with TV6 reporter Mark Bassant, Dinkel said the actions by local authorities are political and religious persecution because this country does not want to affect its relationship with Canada.

He claimed the group is not receiving the proper food nor the proper equipment to prepare food, especially as it prepares to observe the Sabbath (on Saturday). 

“The authorities are purposely trying to break our morale to make us go back to Canada,” he said.

Dinkle said allegations against the group (in Canada) are false and “anti-Semitic” and people have an agenda, adding “a lot going on behind the scenes” was not being reported in the Canadian media.

Masaisai said the group was only shown the rejection order on Thursday night, during his visit to the Piarco Internation­al Hotel.

Masaisai yesterday said this was the longest he has ever seen a situation like this take to be resolved.

The situation has “spiralled out of control”, Masaisai said.

He yesterday called on due process to be taken, with the utmost urgency.

Masaisai served a notice of appeal to the Lev Tahor rejection order to the Chief Immigration Officer yesterday mor­ning.

Because the appeal has been lodged, the Lev Tahor nine cannot be deported without a special enquiry being held first.

Ramlogan expressed confidence the matter will be dealt with “expeditiously”, adding the Chief Immigration Officer has sought legal advice on the matter.

“The group is being treated well and we are ensuring they are treated in a humane and decent manner, pending the determination of the appeal,” Ram­logan said.

Ramlogan said the Central Authority Unit has been liai­sing with its counterpart in Canada and has been advised the children are the subject of a child protection order in the province of Quebec in Canada.

The order awarded custody of the children to the Department of Child Protection in Que­bec.

That decision was appealed.

The Court of Appeal of Ontario yesterday dismissed the appeal and confirmed the court order.

Ramlogan said the allegations are quite serious and the welfare of the children is of  “paramount importance”. 

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