Speaking on Sunday’s panel, Chief of Mission at the IMO, Cy Winter said Antigua & Barbuda’s decision not to accept any more refugees into the country would require prior consultation.
“To just unilaterally say that you’re going to do something like that I think the legislature and the judicial need to be consulted,” he said. “To me, it’s almost ludicrous.”
Last week, government chief of staff Lionel Max Hurst told OBSERVER that Cabinet had taken a decision not to accept any more refugees into the country after 10 Syrian nationals had applied for refugee status.
Winter noted that Antigua & Barbuda must maintain its obligations under international law.
“Obviously, there are legal obligations that the country has. I don’t know the details of why the statement was made or the context, but to me it’s quite clear that Antigua has legal obligations to refugees based on the conventions to which they are signatory and there’s really no way around it,” he said.
Antigua & Barbuda is signatory to the United Nations 1951 Refugee Convention, which was created after thousands of Jewish families were displaced during World War II. The Convention defines who is considered a refugee and sets out both the rights of individuals who are granted , and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. It also forbids refoulement, which is the expulsion of people who have the right to be recognised as refugees.