Annual Report: Trinidad & Tobago 2013

Report
May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Trinidad & Tobago 2013

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REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO

Head of state George Maxwell Richards

Head of government Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Reports of unlawful killings by police continued, some in circumstances suggesting that they may have been extrajudicial executions. Death sentences continued to be handed down.

Background

The murder rate remained high; 377 homicides were recorded during the year.

Legislation that allowed criminal proceedings for certain offences to be abandoned if more than 10 years had passed since the offence was committed was introduced in August and repealed in October following a public outcry at its application in high-profile corruption cases.

Police and security forces

There were continued reports of unlawful killings by police. Official claims that police had fired in self-defence were frequently challenged by eyewitnesses.

  • Atiba Duncan was fatally shot by police in April in the community of Mt D'or Road. Police officers claimed he had pointed a gun at them as they tried to arrest him. However, a forensic pathologist found that he had been shot in the back. Investigations were continuing at the end of the year.

In October the Police Complaints Authority called for a “quicker response time to the lengthy investigative process in matters of fatal police shootings”. It also called for CCTV cameras to be placed in various key areas of police stations.

Justice system

A 2011 act to expedite the judicial process by eliminating preliminary inquiries was due to come into force in January 2013. However, there were concerns that the necessary infrastructure would not be in place to make the legislation operational.

Violence against women and girls

In November, the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service announced that 689 cases of sexual offences had been reported in the period between January and September. This represented an increase of more than 200 compared with the whole of 2011.

The draft National Policy on Gender and Development, under consideration since 2009, was reportedly before the Cabinet at the end of the year.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

Advocates for LGBTI rights continued to lobby for the inclusion of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the Equal Opportunity Act. Same-sex relationships remained criminalized. Although these laws were not enforced, they contributed to creating a discriminatory environment.

Prison conditions

In several cases of ill-treatment, prison officers were successfully prosecuted through the civil courts. However, in the majority of cases there was no subsequent disciplinary action.

In March, the High Court ruled in the case of a prisoner beaten in Golden Grove Prison in December 2009, that “remarks made by the courts in several such matters appear to have been ignored, and there is every indication, from the repetition of like incidents, that the perpetrators face no consequences”.

In July, in a separate case the High Court found that 302 assault and battery claims had been brought against state employees between September 2005 and May 2012. It called on the authorities to provide training for prison officers on the appropriate use of force.

Death penalty

At least five people were sentenced to death; there were no executions. In January the Prime Minister stated publicly that the government was committed to implementing the death penalty.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Amnesty International delegates visited Trinidad and Tobago in September/October.