UPR of Trinidad and Tobago: concerns over death penalty and discrimination against LGBTI community
Monday, 10 October 2011 14:57

On 5 October 2011, the Working Group on the UPR reviewed the human rights record of on Trinidad and Tobago. Dennis Francis, Permanent Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations in Geneva headed the delegation. His opening speech was a letter from the Trinidadian Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, absent at the last minute, outlining the national report and the human rights situation in the country. Trinidad and Tobago has reached UN Millenium Development Goals 2 and 3, achieving universal primary education, and promoting gender equality. The Government has worked to prioritise the protection of women from violence, reduce poverty and violence, enhance the education system, improve the health system by providing AIDS relief programs, and support persons with disabilities. Mr Francis stated that, while capital punishment has not been used since 1999, Trinidad and Tobago has the sovereign right to retain the death penalty in its Constitution. The Government has taken measures to limit its use to cases of ‘heinous murder’ and treason, and only when the ‘safeguard mechanisms’ have been used to ensure a fair trial and appeal process. States recommended that Trinidad and Tobago work towards a moratorium as a step towards the ultimate abolition of the death penalty.


States present commended the country for its achievements in education and gender equality, but noted that further improvements could be made. Specific recommendations included:

  • Calls to either make secondary education mandatory, or establish compulsory education for children between the ages of 5 and 16.
  • Recommendations to ensure that women are protected from violence at home, especially from their spouses, and to educate men on the consequences of their crimes on victims and on themselves. A victim support unit should be created and used by the police.
  • Repeal legislation outlawing same-sex couples. The delegation commented on this stating that while the law exists, it is not implemented and no member of a same-sex couple has been brought to court.
  • Recommendation to work towards a moratorium as a step towards the ultimate abolition of the death penalty.
  • Calls to set up an independent inquiry on the State of Emergency created on 21 August 2011, which has seen brutality and abuse of power towards civilians by the police and military.
  • Calls to sign, ratify and fully respect the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and the Convention Against Torture.
  • Calls to set up a national human rights institution (NHRI) in accordance with the Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions (the Paris Principles).

Mr Francis responded by stating that Trinidad and Tobago is a small state with limited economic resources, deeply affected by climate change. Its population has conservative values, and an identity affected by religious traditions that create a patriarchal society. This makes it hard to debate certain issues, but the delegation stated that the Government is committed to considering all recommendations made. Of the 118 recommendations made, Trinidad and Tobago accepted 15 immediately. Of the remainder the delegation rejected 18, will review 52 in time for the 19th session of the Council in March 2012, and stated that 33 were already implemented. The 15 recommendations accepted covered issues on domestic violence and the strengthening of accountability for such crimes, and promoting the rights of individuals in relation to sexual orientation. Recommendations were rejected due to the financial constraints of the small country, which according to the delegation creates a need to prioritise certain issues. Consequently, the Trinidad and Tobago Government will not address the abolition of capital punishment, nor will it create a public inquiry into the allegations of police brutality in recent protests.

Last Updated on Monday, 10 October 2011 15:11
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