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Trinidad & Tobago

Overview and Key facts:

Capital: Port of Spain

Land Area: 5,128 sq km

Head of Government: Prime Minister The Hon Patrick Manning (since 24 December 2001)

Population: 1,333,000 (2007)

Major Languages: English (official), Hindi, French, Spanish, Chinese

Major Religion(s): Roman Catholic 29.4%, Hindu 23.8%, Anglican 10.9%, Muslim 5.8%, Presbyterian 3.4%, other 26.7%

Date of Joining: 1962

Status of FOI Legislation:

The FOI Act was passed on November 4, 1999 and it came into effect on February 20, 2001. The act was designed to support the following tenets of governance: transparency, equality of information, accountability and empowerment & increased participation. The minister of government who holds the information portfolio is responsible for overseeing the operation and implementation of the Act. This minister will prepare and present an annual report on the on the operation of the Act to the parliament.

Status of National Human Rights Institutions:

Has an Office of the Ombudsman but no specific human Rights Legislation. Universal Periodic Review 12th Session (2011).

News Updates:

Woman prepares to take over in first for Trinidad and Tobago: May Caribbean Net reported that Kamla Persad-Bissessar, the first female president-elect of Trinidad and Tobago, began picking a cabinet on Tuesday and preparing for her inauguration in the former British colony.
http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/trinidad/trinidad.php?news_id=23351&start=0&category_id=17

In Trinidad and Tobago the Death Penalty threatened for the first time in 10 years

On 23 July 2009 Amnesty International's Caribbean office has reiterated its urgent appeal on behalf of prisoner Ronald Tiwarie, who, Amnesty reports, is due to appear before an Advisory Committee on Power of Pardon on 28 July. According to Amnesty, Tiwaris should not go before the Advisory Commission at this stage because he has not yet exhausted rights to appeal. Tiwaris is currently awaiting a response from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to a petition lodged by on 1 April.

Trinidad and Tobago's last execution in was ten years ago in 1999.

Ronald Tiwarie was sentenced to death on 4 August 2004 for the murder of his sister-in-law on on 8 March 2001.

US training for Eastern Caribbean police

On 12 Caribbean Net News reported that 40 police officers from Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Bahamas, Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and St Lucia have been sent to the US for advanced training. The month long course takes place in the International Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA), Roswell, New Mexico. The programme consists of exercises in leadership, criminal justice in global crime issues, terrorist threats, technology and crisis management. The program is funded by the US Government

Privy Council finds Trinidad and Tobago national award unconstitutional

On the 28 April 2009 the Privy Council ruled that the Trinity Cross, Trinidad and Tobago's highest national award, breached Constitutional rights to non-discrimination on the grounds of religion and to equal treatment.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 18 April 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reported that an environmental activist and an anti-US protestor was deported from the country in the back drop of the Fifth Summit of the Americas. The activist was reportedly described by authorities as a security risk.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 30 March 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reported that civil society groups have called upon the government to decriminalise abortion.

Commonwealth/Trinidad & Tobago: On 20 February 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reports that Prime Minister, Patrick Manning will become the Chairman-in Office for the Commonwealth of Nations Summit this year.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 16 February 2009, 'Caribbean Net News' reported that the Employers Consultation Association (ECA) of Trinidad & Tobago has forecasted that thousands of jobs will be lost.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 10 January 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reported that the opposition leader Basdeo Panday has called on the government to take action on top level officials in the licensing department who are allegedly involved in a massive corruption scandal.

Trinidad & Tobago: On December 18 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George has said that the global financial crisis has heightened the need for Caribbean countries to support the full implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Trinidad & Tobago: On December 16 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that former attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, a Senior Counsel, who is also the opposition Chief Whip, is calling for the suspension of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).

Trinidad & Tobago: The Government has declined to disclose the identities of beneficiaries of $45 million worth of scholarships, citing the Freedom of Information Act to support the decision. The Culture Minister, Marlene McDonald, argued that disclosure recipients' identities would be against the public interest. The position of the Government is that disclosing this information "would involve unreasonable disclosure of personal information," namely the education history of the individual recipients, and further the entire process of the awarding of assistance was "a transaction of a financial nature" in which the individual is involved "by virtue of his ...financial assistance." Reginald Dumas, a retired head of the public service, classified this as "yet another dark step in the Government's march towards secrecy," and noted, "the question of the award of scholarships has to logically fall within the overall plan for development of the country which is clearly not private." (06/07/08)

Trinidad & Tobago: On November 10th, 2008 the Trinidad Guardian reported that the Prime Minister of T & T had threatened to take media groups critical of him to court in the future after storming into a radio station where two employees had been critical of the PM during a recent broadcast.

Trinidad & Tobago: On October 23 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that the Caribbean civil society will meet in Trinidad and Tobago to discuss the agenda of the upcoming Heads of Government Summit of the Organisation of American States.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 9 October 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that Senator Dana Seetahal had described the country's Special Anti Crime Unit (SAUTT) as illegal and was unaccountable to any law enforcement organisation. Instead it reports to the National Security Minister allegedly making it open to being used as a political tool.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 22 September 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that a judge has spoken of the necessity of legislation changes to improve the dispensation of justice. According to reports similar calls had been made last week by the country's Chief Justice.

Trinidad & Tobago: On September 15 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that a no confidence motion tabled against the Prime Minister failed in the Parliament.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 18 November 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that a Trinidad court has awarded hefty compensation for two men who were not released from jail on time.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 21 November 'Caribbean Net News' reported that a Trinidad and Tobago judge is to decide if muslim woman wearing a burkah (veil) that obscures the face is qualified to be a juror.

Trinidad & Tobago: On 7 June 2008, Caribbean Netnews reported that Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister was in London attending a meeting of a Representative Group of Commonwealth leaders to undertake advocacy and lobbying in support of the reform of international institutions. The meeting in London is said to be crucial to Trinidad and Tobago as it continues preparations for the next Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit being held in Port of Spain in 2009.

Trinidad & Tobago: Following recent elections Prime Minister Patrick Manning declared victory his party (PNM) won a majority of 26 over the 41 seats in Parliament (the opposition leader claiming PNM only won 25 seats) yet fell short of the two thirds majority required to be able to make constitutional modifications.

Trinidad & Tobago: In a press release, the Caribbean Center for Human Rights expressed its concern to the growing number of police killings in Trinidad and Tobago during 2007. It also stated that not all the claims by the families of the victims that these incidents were unprovoked could be "false or misguided". http://www.trinidadexpress.com/index.pl/article_news?id=161214489

Trinidad & Tobago: On 13 July 2007 the newspaper 'Newsday' reported that the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) has listed Trinidad and Tobago as one of the ten nations that most heavily abuses the rights of Hindus. The HAF made this statement in its third annual report entitled "Hindus in South Asia and the Diaspora: A survey of Human Rights 2006". The report says that Hindus in Trinidad and Tobago are denied employment, physically attacked, targeted by gangs and murderers and denied other educational, political and religious rights. (13/07/07)

Trinidad & Tobago: The Government has declined to disclose the identities of beneficiaries of $45 million worth of scholarships, citing the Freedom of Information Act to support the decision. The Culture Minister, Marlene McDonald, argued that disclosure recipients' identities would be against the public interest. The position of the Government is that disclosing this information "would involve unreasonable disclosure of personal information," namely the education history of the individual recipients, and further the entire process of the awarding of assistance was "a transaction of a financial nature" in which the individual is involved "by virtue of his ...financial assistance." Reginald Dumas, a retired head of the public service, classified this as "yet another dark step in the Government's march towards secrecy," and noted, "the question of the award of scholarships has to logically fall within the overall plan for development of the country which is clearly not private." (06/07/08)

Trinidad & Tobago: On 23 May 2007, Caribbean Net News reported that Prime Minister Patrick Manning told the Senate that steps are being taken to investigate the conduct of the country's Chief Justice, Satnarine Sharma. The later has been implicated in influencing the outcome of the Basdeo Pandey trial. Reports indicate that the President, on the advice of the Prime Minister, will set up a tribunal to look into the matter. The Prime Minister has reportedly given the Chief Justice one week to explain why he should not cease to perform his judicial duties pending the investigation. (23/05/07)

Trinidad & Tobago: On 8 May 2007 political leader and Member of Parliament Winston Dookeran was reported criticising the idea of removing Trinidad and Tobago from the Privacy Council. Caribbean Net News quoted Mr. Dookeran stating that "the Prime Minister is basically saying that because the Privy Council has been an impediment to hangings and will not do what he wants, he will have it removed as the final appellate court. That is ludicrous and dangerous thinking. And this is not a matter for the Prime Minister to decide, this is a national matter that requires the population's consent." (08/05/07)

 
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Joint Letter to HRC Members on Sri Lanka

Statement on Human Rights Defenders

United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (the Mandela Rules)

Re Inhuman conditions in prison SC order 24.4.15

Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 and the FCR Rules - Points for consideration

Hear the Message, Don't Shoot the Messenger - Curbing Voices of Dissent in the Name of Regulation

CHRI CONCERNED OVER ALLEGATIONS OF POLICE VIOLENCE & ARBITRARY ACTION DURING ANTI GOVERNMENT RALLY

Breaking the silence"- CHRI's Press note on Sri Lanka's RTI

CHRI's critique of Tanzania's ATI Bill 2015

Tanzania's ATI Act 2015 (Bill)

CHRI celebrates the release and repatriation of Khan Zaman

Incidence of rape-torture-death in Prisons

Acquittal of Accused Pac Personnel in the 1987 Hashimpura Killings

Call for Proposals - Crime Victimisation Survey

Call for Quotations Website Maintenance

POLICE REFORM WORKING GROUP (PWRG) STATEMENT ON CABINET SECRETARY

Call for implementation of UNSC resolution on humanitarian access for Syrians

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JointLetter BRICS Summit Fortaleza

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VAW statement - item 3 - 11 June 2014

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Upcoming UPR review for Kenya, Kiribati, Lesotho Granada and Guyana

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Humanrights Initiative

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