Attorney Grant Connell, representing three nationals of Trinidad and Tobago, charged with entering the state illegally, told the Court on Wednesday, he could not understand how the men could be under quarantine, and be at a Police Station at the same time.
Benjamin Lewis, Nareem Julien and Kenwyn Lambert are charged with entering the state by boat at Canouan on April 19, 2020, without passports.
They are also charged with entering the state by boat on April 19, 2020, and disembarking at a place other than at a port of entry.
When the men were called at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday, they were not present, but Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett revealed that he was in receipt of a letter from Medical Officer of Health Dr. Roger Duncan, one of the leading members of the COVID-19 Task Force, saying that the men have been quarantined for 14 days.
But Connell pointed out, that the issue with Customs was settled, and his clients intended to take a certain course in relation to the Immigration charges of illegal entry, which could have resulted in a deportation order.
But the attorney seemed to have difficulty understanding how the quarantine procedures worked. He noted that the men were taken to the Coast Guard base at Calliaqua after being intercepted in the Grenadines, and then to the Biabou Police Station.
When he visited them at the Biabou Station, they were being interviewed by Customs official. Immigration would have had to have questioned them at some point also, Connell posited.
But he told the Court he could not understand how someone could be under quarantine and be interviewed at the Police Station, at the same time.
According to him, “When I went to the Biabou Police Station, I was the only one there wearing a mask.” Burnett said that, according to his information, the men were placed on quarantine since Sunday, April 19.
Senior Prosecutor Adolphus Delpleche told the Court that the Medical Authorities had asked for them to be quarantined.
The Senior Magistrate contended, “The matter came before the Court this morning. They are not physically before the Court, so I am going to adjourn the matter”.
Burnett then adjourned the case to May 4 for a report.
Speaking with THE VINCENTIAN after, Connell said, “We are in unchartered waters, and I am guided by those who are in charge of dealing with the COVID-19 issue. But if we look at the positive side, maybe the time has come to amend the Act, so that issues of this nature, which most of the time result in a fine and deportation, could save the machinery of the Court being engaged. This case could have been resolved in 24 hours, and the men would have been happily back in Trinidad. They had already paid a fine under the Customs Act which allows for the issue to be addressed out of the Court.” (The Vincentian)