Last Updated: Friday, 11 July 2014, 10:44 GMT

Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Trinidad and Tobago

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 13 May 2011
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Trinidad and Tobago, 13 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dce15362.html [accessed 11 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.

Head of state: George Maxwell Richards
Head of government: Kamla Persad-Bissessar (replaced Patrick Manning in May)
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 1.3 million
Life expectancy: 69.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 37/28 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.7 per cent

Dozens of people were killed by police, some in circumstances suggesting that the killings may have been unlawful. At least 40 people were on death row; there were no executions.

Background

In April, Prime Minister Patrick Manning called legislative elections, 30 months ahead of schedule, shortly before a vote of no confidence in his administration and amid allegations of corruption. A coalition of five parties, the People's Partnership, won the elections with a political manifesto based on fighting crime, increasing transparency, eradicating poverty and promoting social justice. The newly elected Prime Minister, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, made a commitment to resume public consultation on constitutional reform. The public security situation remained a key political priority, with 472 homicides recorded by the police.

Police and security forces

Dozens of people were killed by the police. In some cases, witness testimonies contradicted claims by the police that they had fired in self-defence.

  • On 3 January, Tristan Cobbler called his mother and told her that he had been shot in the leg by the police and was hiding in a bushy area in Mentor Alley, Laventille. Tristan Cobbler's mother said, she then heard her son say: "Oh God, I can't move. Don't shoot me". She found her son's body where he had indicated he was hiding. The autopsy revealed that he had died of multiple gunshot wounds to the legs, neck, back and chest. The police declared that a gun was found beside the body.

  • Bianca Charles was killed on 16 July by a stray bullet fired by the police in Morvant. According to the police patrol, suspected criminals, whom they were chasing, opened fire on them. The police said they returned fire and one bullet hit Bianca Charles, who was standing in front of her restaurant. However, according to Bianca Charles' husband, who witnessed the incident, the suspects were not shooting at the police.

Violence against women and girls

According to police statistics, 482 rapes, incest and other sexual offences were reported between January and September 2010; the comparable figure for 2009 was 491 cases. However, women's organizations believed that such crimes were under-reported as police were not adequately trained in how to deal with cases of violence against women. Access to justice for victims of sexual offences remained unsatisfactory. Conviction rates for sexual offences were low. A national policy on gender and development, drafted in 2009, which put forward a number of policy measures to prevent and address gender-based violence, had not been adopted by the end of 2010.

Death penalty

At least 40 people were on death row; no executions took place.

Some ministers in the new government voiced their support for the resumption of hangings as a deterrent against crime. The new Prime Minister said that execution by hanging was "the law of the land" and that her government "will abide by the rule of law and implement the law of Trinidad and Tobago". However, she also stated that the new government was considering proposing an amendment to the law in order to end mandatory death sentences for murder.

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