Last Updated: Friday, 25 July 2014, 12:52 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2006 - Trinidad and Tobago

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2006
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Trinidad and Tobago, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7bb3e.html [accessed 26 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Death sentences continued to be imposed and officials threatened to resume executions. There were continuing reports of abuses by the police. Prison conditions remained poor and in some instances amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Background

The Caribbean Court of Justice, a Trinidad and Tobago-based final court of appeal intended to replace the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), opened in April. By the end of 2005, Barbados and Guyana had altered their constitutions to enable the court to hear their cases.

More than 10,000 people took part in a protest in October against the high rate of violent crime. There were reportedly 382 murders in 2005, out of a population of 1.3 million.

Death penalty

Senior officials repeatedly expressed their intention to resume executions – the last executions in Trinidad and Tobago were in 1999. The mandatory death penalty continued to be the only sentence available for those convicted of murder.

Eighty-six people on death row whose sentences were commuted to terms of imprisonment by the JCPC in 2004 remained under sentence of death, as the government apparently ignored the ruling.

  • In June, a warrant was issued for the execution of Lester Pitman, even though he had an appeal pending. He was later granted a stay of execution pending the outcome of appeals. Lester Pitman was convicted of murder in 2004.

Abuses by police

Abuses by police, including unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment, continued to be reported. At least 14 people were reportedly shot dead by police during 2005.

  • In January, 37-year-old Kevin Wallace was shot dead by police. Eyewitnesses said that he was shot in the back as he tried to run away, and that police kicked him as he lay bleeding, before taking him to hospital.
  • In August, 20-year-old Kendell Hamilton was shot dead by members of the Inter-Agency Task Force in Laventille. Police alleged that they fired in self-defence, but relatives claimed Kendell Hamilton was an innocent bystander. After community protests, police announced the death would be investigated.

Poor conditions of detention

Conditions in places of detention caused grave concern and in some cases amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Overcrowding in prisons, remand centres and court cell blocks was rife. Conditions were often unsanitary and medical care was inadequate. Death row prisoners alleged that they were denied necessary medicines.

Incidents of sexual assault in prison were allegedly frequent. Young offenders and people convicted of petty offences were reportedly held in crowded cells with prisoners convicted of serious offences.

Corporal punishment

Laws allowing corporal punishment for crimes including rape remained. Sentences of flogging continued to be passed, but were not apparently carried out.

  • Rawle Bekaroo was sentenced to 15 strokes of the birch and 20 years' imprisonment for kidnapping, rape and sexual assault by the First Criminal Court in Port of Spain in June.
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