A HIGH Court judge has ordered the immediate release of a Gambian man who has been detained at the Immigration Detention Centre (IDC) for the past 14 months, although attempts were made to have him deported.
Justice Joan Charles on Friday ordered the immediate release of Mustapha Touray after she held his detention was unreasonable.
In her ruling, Charles said it was incumbent on the Chief Immigration Officer to expedite detentions in a reasonable time frame.
She said detention of an illegal immigrant should be used as a last resort in the pursuit of deportations.
“Where the immigration department is unable to put the arrangements in place to deport an immigrant, they ought to make him the subject of a supervisory order and release him until those arrangements can be put in place.
“I bear in mind that any police officer can arrest, without warrant, an illegal immigrant in this country, so that even if he were to attempt to evade the authorities once the arrangements are in place and he is arrested, he could be deported immediately,” she said.
Charles also pointed out that in Touray’s case, during the first deportation attempt, he was stopped in Turkey and returned to TT because of problems with the travel documents the State procured for him to travel.
She noted that attorneys for the Chief Immigration Officer had assured they would make better arrangements on the next occasion, but could not say how soon this would be done.
“The respondent, in answer to questions that I asked, indicated that a period of six weeks should be allowed for new arrangements to be made. Of course, it begs the question as to why. in the 14 months since the applicant was returned to this jurisdiction. that those arrangements had not been put in place. No satisfactory answer to that question has been given,” the judge said.
On August 14, 2017, a deportation order was made against Touray and on April 18, 2018, an attempt was made to deport him. While in transit to Gambia, he was stopped in Turkey and returned to TT on April 20 and taken to the IDC.
The judge was told there was a difficulty in securing flights to Gambia and the immigration department was securing the finances to buy another ticket for Touray, but could not say when those funds would be obtained.
Charles was also told they were waiting on a travel document from the Gambian Embassy in Cuba and this will be received when they buy the ticket.
Touray was represented by attorneys Gerald Ramdeen, Umesh Maharaj and Dayadai Harripaul. The Chief Immigration Officer was represented by Neil Byam and Sangeeta Lalchan.