Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Head of state: Arthur Napoleon Raymond Robinson
Head of government: Patrick Manning (replaced Basdeo Panday in December)
Population: 1.3 million
Official language: English
Death penalty: retentionist
2001 treaty ratifications/signatures: Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I); Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II)
Death sentences continued to be imposed but no executions were carried out. Reports of torture and ill-treatment by police persisted and abuses in detention continued to cause grave concern.
In October, parliament was suspended when the government lost its working majority after three of the ruling United National Congress Party members of parliament refused to vote with the government. Elections in December did not result in either major political party having a majority in parliament.
There were at least 55 men and four women on death row at the end of 2001. There were no executions and no death warrants were issued during the year. Courts continued to impose death sentences at an alarming rate, with 12 people sentenced to death in a one-week period in August alone. In June, the government announced its intention to introduce legislation to lessen the legal safeguards available to condemned prisoners and so facilitate the resumption of executions. This appeared to be a reaction to recent court rulings that increased the legal rights of condemned prisoners. However, the Constitution (Amendment) Bill required the support of the opposition and had not been passed by the end of the year.
Abuses in detention
Conditions in places of detention continued to cause grave concern. There were reports of brutality by prison guards, in one case resulting in death.
- The naked body of Anton Cooper was found in a cell at Golden Grove Prison on 26 June. According to the autopsy report, Anton Cooper, who was described as being in good health when he was taken into custody the previous week, died of "asphyxia associated with multiple blunt traumatic injuries". Other prisoners at the institution told the media that Anton Cooper had been severely beaten by approximately nine prison guards. According to their statements, after being beaten, he complained of severe pain and requested to see a doctor, whereupon the guards returned and beat him again.
- In June, judges freed former death-row inmate George Moore, aged 75, after his murder conviction had been reduced to manslaughter on mental health grounds and the appeal court found he had served a sufficient prison term since 1987. The appeal court judges were severely critical of the medical care he had received in prison, describing the treatment available as "pathetically bad based on the experience of this appellant." George Moore had become partially blind while in prison because of a lack of treatment for cataracts, a situation the judges described as "unforgivable".
Torture and ill-treatment by police continued to be reported. In July, the Prime Minister announced the establishment of a Police Management Authority in order to improve discipline in the police. At least four people received compensation after filing cases alleging police abuse.
- In March, Siewchand Ramanoop won undisclosed damages from the state after a judge ruled that his constitutional rights had been violated by the police. Siewchand Ramanoop had been arrested on 1 November 2000 after he got into an argument with an off-duty police officer. The officer and one of his colleagues later confronted Siewchand Ramanoop, handcuffed him and beat him. Siewchand Ramanoop was then taken to Gasparillo Police Station and beaten again.
- In April, Titus Fox, who was shot in the leg by a police officer and then arrested and charged with two offences which had been dismissed in 1991, was awarded TT$133,400 (approximately US$22,200) for assault and false imprisonment.
- In May a police sergeant was arrested and charged with the rape of a teenage girl in San Fernando Police Station. According to reports, the girl had gone to the station with her mother to report an incident of domestic violence. The girl was later taken back to the station and assaulted.
- In May, Joseph Reyes, who had been detained awaiting trial for four years, was freed by magistrates who ruled that his constitutional rights had been violated, thereby invalidating his confession to murder. Joseph Reyes had been denied access to a lawyer, handcuffed and denied food and water for long periods, and denied access to a toilet for eight days. He also alleged that he was beaten.
- In November, a Special Reserve Police Constable was charged with murder in connection with the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Anisha Neptune in May outside the Four Roads Police Station.
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