U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2001 - Trinidad and Tobago
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||4 March 2002|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 2001 - Trinidad and Tobago , 4 March 2002, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3c84d9835.html [accessed 31 August 2014]|
|Comments||The report entitled "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with sections 116(d) and 502(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, by February 25 "a full and complete report regarding the status of internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A) in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act." We have also included reports on several countries that do not fall into the categories established by these statutes and that thus are not covered by the congressional requirement.|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Trinidad and Tobago, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, is a parliamentary democracy in which there have been generally free and fair elections since independence from the United Kingdom in 1962. A bicameral parliament and a prime minister govern the country. Parliament elects a president, whose office is largely ceremonial but does have some appointive power. Prime Minister Basdeo Panday's United National Congress (UNC), which was returned to power in generally free and fair elections in 2000, held a narrow majority of 19 seats in the 36-member parliament until the December 10 elections. Those elections yielded an 18-18 balance between the UNC and the People's National Movement (PNM). Both parties looked to the President to appoint as Prime Minister the candidate most likely to command a majority in Parliament. When the President appointed PNM leader Patrick Manning as Prime Minister, the UNC declared the decision unconstitutional. At year's end, the PNM had appointed a cabinet, the UNC had called for new elections, and the Parliament had not been called into session. A 12-member elected House of Assembly handles local matters on the island of Tobago. The judiciary is generally independent.
The Ministry of National Security controls the police service and the defense force, which are responsive to civilian authority. An independent body, the Police Service Commission, makes all personnel decisions in the police service, and the Ministry has little direct influence over changes in senior positions. There were credible reports that police and prison guards committed some human rights abuses.
The country's population is approximately 1.3 million; oil and natural gas production and related downstream petrochemical industries form the basis of the market-based economy. The service sector is the largest employer, although continued industrialization has created many jobs in the construction industry. Agriculture, while contributing only 4 percent to gross domestic product (GDP), remains an important employer, both at the subsistence and commercial level. Although per capita GDP was approximately $6,900, 11.1 percent unemployment contributes to a skewed income distribution, which has not improved markedly despite economic growth of 3.8 percent during the year. Government efforts to address this problem by further diversification into manufacturing and tourism have been only partially successful.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens, and the law and judiciary provide effective means of dealing with individual instances of abuse. Nonetheless, there was one death in custody, and police and guard abuse of prisoners, poor prison conditions, and significant violence against women remain problems.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary and Unlawful Deprivation of Life
In February the police arrested Danrajh Singh, a former cabinet minister, and charged him with the December 1999 murder of politician Hanraj Sumairsingh. Despite public speculation about possible political motives, indications are that corruption was at the root of the incident. At year's end, Singh was in a hospital for psychiatric evaluation, and a preliminary inquiry was under way. In 2000 the police had arrested and charged a member of Jamat al Muslimeen, a radical group, with this murder; he has become the prosecution's main witness in the case.
On June 25, prisoner Anton Cooper was found dead in his cell. His relatives alleged that police and prison officials had beaten him. His death certificate stated that he died from asphyxia associated with multiple blunt traumatic injuries. The Prison Commissioner called for a full report on his death, and at year's end, a court hearing on the coroner's inquest was pending.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, there were credible reports of police and prison personnel abusing prisoners in incidents that involved beating, pushing, and verbal insults. An Amnesty International report stated that use of excessive force and ill treatment of prisoners and suspects by police and guards continued. The president of the Police Social and Welfare Association admitted that there have been incidents of abuse, but he asserted that they are infrequent.
A Sierra Leonean asylum seeker claimed that he was subject to frequent beatings by guards and other prisoners while in detention (see Section 1.d.). Relatives of prisoner Anton Cooper alleged that police and prison officials beat him to death (see Section 1.a.).
A 1999 ruling permits corporal punishment for certain crimes, including aggravated assault, rape, deliberate shooting, and robbery with violence. There were no sentences of corporal punishment during the year.
Police corruption is a problem but is not pervasive. The Police Complaints Authority receives complaints about the conduct of any police officer and monitors the investigation of complaints.
Prison conditions at two of the three largest men's prisons generally meet international standards. However, conditions are worse in the Port of Spain prison, which dates from the 1830's. It was designed for 250 inmates but housed 863 prisoners at year's end. Diseases such as chicken pox, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, and viruses spread easily, and prisoners sometimes must purchase their own medication. Overcrowding is a problem in 5 of 8 facilities, where some 3,400 inmates were housed in prisons built for 1,550. A new maximum security prison, opened in late 1998, has a capacity of 2,450. However, at year's end, it was not fully operational, held approximately 820 inmates, and had done little to relieve the overcrowding in the detention system.
Pretrial detainees are held separately from convicted prisoners, although they may be in the remand section of the same facilities as convicted prisoners.
Conditions at the women's prison generally meet international standards.
Children between the ages of 15 and 19 are held at the Youth Training Center. Younger children are sent to the Boy's Industrial School.
The Government permits prison visits by independent human rights monitors.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest or detention, and the Government generally observes this prohibition.
A police officer may arrest a person either based on a warrant issued or authorized by a magistrate or without a warrant when the officer witnesses commission of the alleged offense. For less serious offenses, the authorities typically bring the accused before a magistrate by way of a summons, requiring the accused to appear within 48 hours, at which time they may enter a plea. For more serious offenses, when the accused is brought before the court, the magistrate proceeds with a preliminary inquiry or, alternatively, commits the accused to prison on remand or allows the accused to post bail until the inquiry. The court may and does customarily grant bail to any person charged with any offense other than murder, treason, piracy, hijacking, or any offense for which death is the penalty fixed by law. In cases in which bail is refused, magistrates advise the accused of their right to an attorney and, with few exceptions, allow them access to an attorney once they are in custody and prior to any interrogation.
The Minister of National Security may authorize preventive detention in order to prevent actions prejudicial to public safety, public order, or national defense, and the Minister must state the grounds for the detention. A person detained under this provision has access to counsel and may have the detention reviewed by a three-member tribunal established by the Chief Justice and chaired by an attorney. The Minister must provide the tribunal with the grounds for the detention within 7 days of the detainee's request for review, which shall be held "as soon as reasonably practicable" following receipt of the grounds. There have been no reports that the authorities abused this procedure.
The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and it is not used.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government respects this provision in practice. The judiciary provides citizens with a fair judicial process. After the Chief Justice warned in 1999 that the executive branch was encroaching upon judicial independence, two independent commissions examined the matter. A Commonwealth commission concluded that the judiciary was not threatened by the Attorney General's involvement in judicial administration; however, a law association group recommended that executive requests should be handled by the Prime Minister, not the Attorney General. The Government accepted the conclusions of the commission that it had appointed, rather than those of the law association group.
The Judiciary is divided into a Supreme Court of Judicature and the Magistracy. The Supreme Court is composed of the Court of Appeal and the High Court; the Magistracy includes the summary courts and the petty civil courts.
All criminal proceedings commence with the filing of a complaint in the summary court. Minor offenses are tried before the magistrate. For more serious offenses, the magistrate must conduct a preliminary inquiry. If there is sufficient evidence to support the charge, the accused is committed to stand trial before a judge and jury of the High Court. All civil matters are heard by the High Court. Both civil and criminal appeals may be filed with the local court of appeal and ultimately to the Privy Council in London. There has been some progress toward establishing a regional Caribbean Court of Justice, which would replace appeals to the Privy Council; the measure awaits ratification by the member states.
The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary vigorously enforces this right. All criminal defendants have the right to an attorney. In practice the courts sometimes appoint attorneys for those persons charged with indictable offenses (serious crimes) if they cannot retain one on their own behalf. The law requires a person accused of murder to have an attorney. An indigent person may refuse to accept an assigned attorney for cause and obtain a replacement.
Despite serious efforts to improve the administration of justice, problems remain in some areas. Police corruption is also a problem but is not pervasive. Trial delays, while not as extensive as in past years, remain a problem: a person prosecuted for a serious offense is committed for trial or discharged within an average of 22 months in noncapital cases and 13 months in capital cases. The High Court showed improvement in reducing trial backlogs, but they remained significant at the magistrate court level.
In 2000 Parliament passed the Integrity in Public Life Act, which established an Integrity Commission with jurisdiction and control over the financial activities and ethical conduct of persons in public life and persons exercising public functions. In November a court sentenced an attorney to 7 years in prison for soliciting $6,600 (TT$40,000) from a client's wife as an inducement for a magistrate to grant bail to the client.
In the case of charges brought against a number of justices of the peace following a 1997 inquiry into various allegations of corruption and illegal conduct, the authorities brought charges against 11 justices of the peace. At year's end, the courts had dismissed the cases against 5 justices; the other 6 cases remained pending. There was only one reported case of corruption involving a justice of the peace during the year.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such practices, and the Government generally respects these prohibitions in practice.
2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government generally respects these rights in practice. An independent press and a functioning democratic political system combine to ensure freedom of speech and of the press.
The three major daily newspapers freely and often criticize the Government in editorials. Widely read weekly tabloids tend to be extremely critical of the Government. All newspapers are privately owned. The two local television newscasts, one of which appears on a state-owned station, are sometimes critical of the Government but generally do not editorialize.
Over the past several years, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago and the Publishers' Association have expressed concern about media treatment and access to the Government. For its part, the Government sometimes charges unfair treatment by the media, which the press views as unwarranted criticism. In 1997 when Prime Minister Panday labeled Ken Gordon, head of a major media corporation, a "pseudo-racist" for editorials about the rise of the ruling UNC party, Gordon filed suit for libel. In November 2000, a court found the Prime Minister guilty of libel and ordered him to pay damages to Gordon. Panday's appeal of that decision still was pending at year's end.
A Board of Film Censors is authorized to ban films that it considers to be against public order and decency or contrary to the public interest. This includes films that it believes may be controversial in matters of religion or race, or that contain seditious propaganda. In practice films rarely are banned.
The Government does not restrict access to the Internet.
The Government does not restrict academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The police routinely grant the required advance permits for street marches, demonstrations, or other outdoor public meetings. Amendments to the Summary Offences Act require that permits for public meetings and rallies be applied for 48 hours in advance instead of 24 hours, and make it an offense to hold a public meeting without a permit under the guise of conducting an exempted religious, educational, recreational, or sports function. In practice the amendments have not restricted unduly public meetings, demonstrations, or exempted events. During a January standoff between the Prime Minister and the President over the extent of executive power in appointing Ministers (see Section 3), the police denied a request for a street march from the National Association for the Empowerment of African People in support of the President's position. The police justified its refusal on grounds of threats to national security and public disturbance. There was no court challenge to the police decision.
The Constitution provides for freedom of association, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. Registration or other governmental permission to form private associations is not required.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for these rights, and the Government generally respects them in practice.
The Government acceded to the 1951 U.N. Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol in 2000, and the Convention entered into effect on February 8. At year's end, the Government was drafting legislation to implement obligations accepted under the Convention. Until Parliament approves the legislation, there is no provision for persons to claim or be classified as refugees or asylum seekers; the Ministry of National Security's Immigration Division handles any such requests on a case-by-case basis, although asylum seekers may face long prison detentions. For example, the authorities detained Alie Marah, a Sierra Leonean who requested political asylum in 2000, in prison for 15 months as an illegal immigrant. Marah claimed that he was subject to frequent beatings by guards and other prisoners (see Section 1.c.). While later released into the care of a local charity, his case remained unresolved at year's end.
The issue of the provision of first asylum did not arise.
There were no reports of the forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice through periodic elections, deemed generally free and fair by observers, held on the basis of universal suffrage. Parliamentary elections are held at intervals not to exceed 5 years, and a general election was held on December 10. Elections for the Tobago House of Assembly are held every 4 years. The Constitution extends the right to vote to citizens as well as to legal residents at least 18 years of age who are citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
In the 1995 general elections, the former opposition UNC and the ruling PNM each won 17 seats in the 36-member Parliament. The National Alliance for Reconstruction (NAR) won two seats and joined with the UNC to form a new government. Basdeo Panday became the country's first Prime Minister of East Indian descent. The PNM is primarily but not exclusively Afro-Trinidadian; the UNC is primarily but not exclusively Indo-Trinidadian. In general elections in December 2000, voters returned Prime Minister Panday and his UNC party to power with a 2-seat majority, winning 19 seats. The PNM won 16 seats and the NAR 1 seat. Election observers noted that the elections were well-organized, peaceful, free, and fair.
In January a month-long standoff ensued when the President refused to confirm seven of the Prime Minister's ministerial and senatorial appointments, asserting that the Prime Minister was exceeding his authority in appointing defeated election candidates. Eventually the President assented to the appointments.
General elections held on December 10 resulted in an evenly divided Parliament, with both major parties winning 18 seats. Election observers reported that the elections were transparent and generally conducted in a free, orderly, and peaceful manner. Observers also expressed concern about the accuracy of voters' lists, since a number of persons found their names deleted on election day. Both parties looked to President A.N.R. Robinson to break the deadlock by appointing as Prime Minister that candidate most likely to be able to command a majority in Parliament. When the President appointed PNM leader Patrick Manning, the UNC declared the decision unconstitutional, and refused to participate in an earlier agreement on the appointment of a Parliamentary Speaker, among other things. At year's end, the PNM had made all of its cabinet appointments, the UNC had called for new elections, and the Parliament had not been called into session.
There are no specific laws that restrict the participation of women or minorities in government or the political parties. Women hold many positions in the Government and political party leadership, but the percentage of women in government and politics does not correspond to their percentage of the population. In the December 10 elections, voters elected 6 women to the 36-seat House of Representatives. Prior to the elections, 8 of 31 appointed Senators were women and 2 women served as ministers. Former Prime Minister Panday had appointed women as acting Prime Minister on several occasions. At year's end, Prime Minister Manning appointed 7 women to his 29-member Cabinet.
4. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of human rights groups operate without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. While government officials are generally cooperative, the Government has attacked strongly Amnesty International's criticism of prison conditions and due process. An independent Ombudsman receives complaints relating to governmental administrative issues and investigates complaints of human rights abuse. The Ombudsman can make recommendations but does not have authority to force government offices to take action.
In 1998 the Government sought to curtail appeals by death row inmates to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the U.N. Human Rights Committee. The Government's moves were prompted by a Privy Council ruling that failure to execute a condemned prisoner within 5 years of sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Constitution. To meet this 5-year deadline, the Government sought to impose time limits on the IACHR and the U.N. Committee to ensure that applications before these bodies were completed within 8 months.
However, the Privy Council subsequently ruled that by ratifying a treaty that provides for individual access to an international body, the Government made that process part of the domestic criminal justice system, thereby extending the scope of the due process clause of the Constitution, and that executing a prisoner with such an appeal pending would constitute a violation of due process. The Government placed on hold execution proceedings for prisoners with pending petitions before the IACHR or the U.N. Committee until determinations on those petitions are reached.
5. Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Government generally respects in practice the constitutional provisions for fundamental human rights and freedoms for all without discrimination based on race, origin, color, religion, or sex. In October 2000, Parliament passed an Equal Opportunities Bill that made discrimination illegal on the basis of race, ethnicity, sex, religion, marital status, or disability. At year's end, the act had not yet been proclaimed, as the Government still was taking steps to establish a commission to investigate cases of alleged discrimination and a tribunal to judge complaints. In the meantime, the authorities refer complaints that would be addressed by the act to the Ombudsman and relevant government departments for appropriate action (see Section 4).
Physical abuse of women continued to be a significant problem. There has been increased media coverage of domestic abuse cases and signs of a shift in public opinion, which had held that such cases were a private matter. The Government has taken action to improve aid to victims. Murder, rape, and other crimes against women are reported frequently; 30 percent of all female homicide victims were believed to have been killed by their husbands or lovers. The 1991 Domestic Violence Act was intended to facilitate court-issued restraining orders to protect victims and extended protection to common-law relationships, a frequent form of marital union. In 1999 a new Domestic Violence Act strengthened provisions of the 1991 law and allowed easier access for police in instances of domestic violence. Although the original legislation did not result in a large number of restraining orders, the number issued has increased since enactment of the 1999 law. The establishment of a community police division improved police responsiveness to reports of domestic abuse, but some police officers are reportedly unsympathetic or reluctant to pursue such cases, resulting in underreporting of crimes of violence against women. There were more than 4,000 complaints of spousal abuse during 2000; police handled an average of 9 cases a day that led to reports by victims, with the actual incidence of such abuse considered to be much higher. Two government ministries, operating independently, direct the nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) that run most of the country's social programs addressing domestic violence, including five shelters for battered women.
Rape, spousal abuse, and spousal rape are criminal offenses. A rape crisis center offers counseling for rape victims and perpetrators on a voluntary basis. During the year, a government-sponsored hot line received 3,169 calls, of which 1,393 were referred to shelters or received counseling or other assistance. The hot line is for victims of rape, domestic violence, or other violence against women.
Prostitution is illegal, and the authorities brought charges of soliciting for the purpose of prostitution against 26 persons during the year. Of those, 20 were female and 6 male.
The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and it is a problem.
Many women hold positions in business, the professions, and government, but men tend to hold the most senior positions. There is no law or regulation requiring equal pay for equal work.
The Division of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Culture and Gender Affairs is charged with protecting women's rights in all aspects of government and legislation. Several active women's rights groups also exist.
The Government's ability to protect children's welfare is limited by a lack of funds and expanding social needs. Education is free and compulsory through primary school, usually ending at 11 or 12 years of age. Some parts of the public school system seriously fail to meet the needs of the school age population due to overcrowding, substandard physical facilities, and occasional classroom violence by gangs. The Government has committed resources to building new facilities and has expanded access to free secondary education.
There is no societal pattern of abuse directed at children. The Domestic Violence Act provides protection for children abused at home. Abused children are usually placed with relatives if they are removed from the home. If there is no relative who can take them, there are several government institutions and NGO's that accept children for placement.
In June the Children (Amendment) Act of 2000 took effect. This act increased the upper age in the definition of a child from 14 to 18 years of age, abolished corporal punishment as a penal sanction for children under 18, and prohibited sentencing a person between 14 and 18 years of age to prison. A companion law established a new Children's Authority to license and monitor community residences, foster homes, and nurseries, and to investigate complaints about the care of children in such locations. At year's end, the Government was taking steps to appoint a board to manage the new authority.
The law prohibits child prostitution, but there were occasional reports of it.
Persons With Disabilities
There is no legislation that specifically enumerates or protects the rights of persons with disabilities or mandates the provision of access to buildings or services. The lack of access to transportation, buildings, and sidewalks is a major obstacle for persons with disabilities. The Government provides some public assistance and partial funding to a variety of NGO's, which in turn provide direct services to disabled members or clients.
Members of a very small group in the population identify themselves as descendants of the original Amerindian population of the country. They maintain social ties with each other and other aboriginal groups and are not subject to discrimination.
Various ethnic and religious groups live together peacefully, generally respecting one another's beliefs and practices. However, at times racial tensions appear between Afro-Trinidadians and Indo-Trinidadians. Each group comprises about 40 percent of the population. The private sector is dominated by Indo-Trinidadians and persons of European, Middle Eastern, or Asian descent. Indo-Trinidadians also predominate in agriculture. Afro-Trinidadians are employed in disproportionate numbers in the civil service, police, and military. Some Indo-Trinidadians assert that they are excluded from equal representation in the civil service due to racial discrimination. Since Indo-Trinidadians constitute the majority in rural areas and Afro-Trinidadians the majority in urban areas, competition between town and country for public goods and services often takes on racial overtones.
In 1996 there were reports that several popular recreational clubs refused entry to Afro-Trinidadians and dark-skinned Indo-Trinidadians. The reports led to criticism of racism by the local press, and in 1997 Parliament passed three laws prescribing license revocation for establishments found guilty of engaging in discriminatory practices. There was no information available regarding application of this legislation in practice.
6. Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The 1972 Industrial Relations Act provides that all workers, including those in state-owned enterprises, may form or join unions of their own choosing without prior authorization. Union membership has declined, with an estimated 25 to 30 percent of the work force organized in 19 active unions. Most unions are independent of the Government or political party control, although the Sugar Workers' Union historically was allied with the UNC. Prime Minister Panday formerly was president of the Sugar Workers' Union.
The law prohibits antiunion activities before a union is registered legally, and the Ministry of Labor enforces this provision when it receives a complaint. A union also may bring a request for enforcement to the Industrial Court. All employees except those in "essential services," which include the police and many other government employees, have the right to strike. There were no significant strikes during the year.
The Labor Relations Act prohibits retribution against strikers and provides for grievance procedures if needed. A special section of the Industrial Court handles mandatory arbitration cases. Arbitration agreements are enforceable and can be appealed only to the Industrial Court. Most observers consider this court to be impartial; it consists of government, business, and labor representatives.
Unions freely join federations and affiliate with international bodies. There are no restrictions on international travel or contacts.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The Industrial Relations Act establishes the right of workers to collective bargaining. The Ministry of Labor's conciliation service maintains statistical information regarding the number of workers covered by collective bargaining agreements and the number of antiunion complaints filed.
The Industrial Court may order employers who are found guilty of antiunion activities to reinstate workers and pay compensation, or it can impose other penalties including imprisonment. When necessary the conciliation service also determines which unions should have senior status.
There are several export processing zones (EPZ's). The same labor laws apply in the EPZ's as in the rest of the country.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law does not prohibit specifically forced or compulsory labor, but there were no reports that it was practiced. There were also no reports of forced or bonded labor by children.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
The minimum legal age for workers is 12 years. Children from 12 to 14 years of age may work only in family businesses. Children under the age of 18 legally may work only during daylight hours, with the exception of 16- to 18-year-olds, who may work at night in sugar factories. The Ministry of Labor and Small and Micro-Enterprises is responsible for enforcing child labor provisions, but enforcement is lax because there are no established mechanisms for receiving, investigating, and addressing child labor complaints. The Ministry is seeking assistance from the International Labor Organization (ILO) to address the problem. There is no organized exploitation of child labor, but children are seen begging or working as street vendors. The Government has not ratified ILO Convention 182 on elimination of the worst forms of child labor. The law does not prohibit specifically forced and bonded labor by children, but such practices are not known to occur (see Section 6.c.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The 1998 Minimum Wages Act established a minimum wage of about $1.10 (TT$7.00) per hour. The minimum wage does not provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family, but most workers earn more than the minimum. The Ministry of Labor enforces the minimum wage regulations.
The Minimum Wages Act also established a 40-hour workweek, time-and-one-half pay for the first 4 hours of overtime on a workday, double pay for the next 4 hours, and triple pay thereafter. For Sundays, holidays, and off days, the act also provides for double pay for the first 8 hours and triple pay thereafter. Daily rest periods and paid annual leave form part of most employment agreements.
The Factories and Ordinance Bill of 1948 sets requirements for health and safety standards in certain industries and provides for inspections to monitor and enforce compliance. The Industrial Relations Act protects workers who file complaints with the Ministry of Labor regarding illegal or hazardous working conditions. If it is determined upon inspection that hazardous conditions exist in the workplace, the worker is absolved for refusing to comply with an order that would have placed him or her in danger.
f. Trafficking in Persons
While there are no laws that specifically address trafficking in persons, the illegality of such acts is covered broadly in a variety of laws that address kidnaping, labor conditions, pimping and prostitution, slavery, and indentured servitude. There were no reports of persons being trafficked to, from, or within the country.