Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Trinidad and Tobago
|Publication Date||24 May 2012|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2012 - Trinidad and Tobago, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fbe39075.html [accessed 28 August 2014]|
Head of state: George Maxwell Richards
Head of government: Kamla Persad-Bissessar
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 1.3 million
Life expectancy: 70.1 years
Under-5 mortality: 35.3 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 98.7 per cent
A state of emergency was declared in response to rising crime levels. There were continued reports of killings by police, some in circumstances suggesting that they may have been unlawful.
The government introduced a state of emergency on 21 August to address an unspecified "threat to national security" related to organized crime. This granted the security forces powers of search and arrest without a warrant, prohibited public marches or meetings without the permission of the Commissioner of Police and introduced a night-time curfew. The state of emergency was lifted on 5 December.
The Prime Minister announced that there had been a dramatic fall in violent crime during the state of emergency. However, there were frequent reports that police abused their powers and that residents of alleged crime "hotspots" were being indiscriminately targeted. More than half of the 449 people arrested under anti-gang legislation under the state of emergency were released due to lack of evidence, which the Director of Public Prosecutions blamed on poor evidence gathering by the police.
Police and security forces
Dozens of people were killed by the police. Police claims that they had fired in self-defence were frequently challenged by eyewitness testimony.
At 9pm on 22 July, Abigail Johnson, Allana Duncan and Kerron Eccles were shot dead by police as they were driving through the village of Barrackpore. Police claimed that they were shot at by passengers in the car and had to return fire. However, eyewitnesses reportedly stated that the three were unarmed and had been shot deliberately. The deaths led to a week of protests by local residents. Seven police officers were charged with murder in October and a trial was continuing at the end of the year.
There were reports of arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment by police during the state of emergency.
Arthur Lewis was arrested at his home in Williamsville on 5 September. He claimed he was beaten with batons while detained at Morvant Police Station. He was released without charge on 9 September.
In September the Justice Minister announced that there was a backlog of over 100,000 criminal cases in the courts. A bill to expedite the judicial process by removing preliminary inquiries was enacted in December.
Violence against women and girls
There was a 30 per cent drop in reports of sexual violence between January and September 2011 compared to the same period in 2010. However, gender-based violence continued to be under-reported. This was linked to inadequate police training and the slowness of the justice system. Two and a half years after it was drafted, the National Policy on Gender and Development had yet to be adopted.
Two people were sentenced to death, and there were 31 people on death row at the end of the year. The government introduced a bill in January to facilitate the resumption of executions. The bill was rejected by Parliament in February.