1. The Committee considered
the joint third and fourth periodic reports of Trinidad and Tobago (CCPR/C/TTO/99/3)
at its 1870th and 1871st meetings (CCPR/C/SR.1870 and 1871), held on
17 October 2000, and adopted its concluding observations and recommendations
at its 1891st meeting (CCPR/C/SR.1891), on 31 October.
2. The Committee regrets
the delay in submission of these reports, but welcomes the information
set out in the report and the accompanying material. Supplementary written
answers were received in time for them to be considered by the Committee.
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes
the setting up, in the Ministry of the Attorney-General and Legal Affairs,
of a Human Rights Unit, its activities in clearing the backlog in reporting
under the Covenant and the human rights treaties, and its other initiatives
to improve the protection for human rights.
4. The Committee commends
improvements to the remedies provided in cases of domestic violence,
together with specialized personnel now available to assist victims,
including the Domestic Violence Unit set up by the Ministry of Culture
and Gender Affairs.
5. The Committee takes note with satisfaction of the institution of
the independent Police Complaints Authority and looks forward to rapid
proclamation of the Act extending its powers.
6. The extension of legal
aid, both in terms of geographical distribution and of the tribunals
before which it is available, as well as the raising of fees so as to
attract higher quality advocates increase compliance with article 14.3
C. Concerns and recommendations
7. The Committee places
on record its profound regret at the denunciation of the Optional Protocol.
In the light of the continued existence of the death penalty, and despite
assurances by the delegation that proposals to extend the death penalty
have been rejected, it recommends that:
(a) In relation to
all persons accused of capital offences, the State party should ensure
that every requirement of article 6 is strictly complied with;
(b) In the event
of a reclassification of murder being brought into effect for persons
tried and convicted thereafter, those already convicted of murder
should be entitled to similar reclassification, in accordance with
article 15.1; and
(c) The assistance
of counsel should be ensured, through legal aid as necessary, immediately
on arrest and throughout all subsequent proceedings to persons accused
of serious crimes, in particular in cases of offences carrying the
8. Upon ratifying the Covenant,
the State party accepted obligations under articles 2.1 and 2.2 to ensure
that all individuals subject to its jurisdiction should enjoy Covenant
rights and, insofar as they are not already in place, to take the necessary
steps to adopt measures to give effect to those rights.
9. The Committee is concerned
that a thorough review of domestic law, to ensure compliance with the
Covenant norms, has not yet been completed.
The State party may
not rely on limitations in its Constitution as grounds for non-compliance
with the Covenant but should put in place the necessary laws to achieve
The State party should,
for example, align the limitations imposed by article 4 of the Covenant
with domestic measures to be taken in cases of public emergency, so
(a) Comply with
the categorization of an emergency as a threat to the "life of the
(b) Respect the
prohibition on derogation contained in article 4.2; the State party
should establish that measures permitted under emergency powers
are so compatible;
(c) Ensure that
any derogations from the State party's obligations under the Covenant
do not exceed those strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.
10. The Committee is concerned
at the lack of remedies under domestic legislation, including the Constitution,
for victims of discrimination within the full ambit of articles 2.3
and 26 of the Covenant.
The State party should
ensure that remedies are available for the full range of discriminatory
situations falling within the protection given by those articles,
and should include in its next report information on the extent to
which this has been achieved.
11. The Committee urges
that priority be given to all necessary preparations, so as to bring
into force by proclamation at the earliest possible date the Equal Opportunities
Act 2000 particularly in respect to the advancement of women.
The State party should,
thereafter, introduce amending legislation to extend the provisions
of the Act to those suffering discrimination on grounds of age, sexual
orientation, pregnancy or infection with HIV/AIDS.
12. In relation to sexual
harassment in the workplace, the Committee notes the judicial decision
in Bank Employees' Union v. Republic Banks Ltd, Trade Dispute
17 of 1995, where it was held that a person had been properly dismissed
from his employment where his conduct, on the facts of the case, was
properly classified as sexual harassment.
The adequacy of judicial
remedy should be kept under review and legislation passed if necessary.
13. The Committee is disturbed
to learn that apart from prohibiting corporal punishment for persons
under 18 years of age, the State party is still practising the punishments
of flogging and whipping which are cruel and inhuman punishments prohibited
by article 7.
Sentences of flogging
or whipping should immediately be abolished.
14. The Committee regrets
that problems relating to the police force (such as corruption, brutality,
abuse of power and obstacles placed in the way of police personnel who
seek to correct such practices) identified over the last decade, have
still not been rectified. It is concerned that there is little reduction
in the numbers of complaints of harassment and battery submitted in
1999 and 2000.
The Plan of Action now
in preparation should reinforce reforms already made and ensure that
the culture of the force genuinely becomes one of public service;
dereliction of duty, harassment and battery (among other things) by
police officers should be the subject of swift disciplinary or criminal
proceedings (arts. 2.1, 2.2. and 7).
15. The Committee supports
the expressed concern of the Trinidad and Tobago Police Complaints Authority
about the inadequacy of reports from the Police Complaints Division
and failure of that Division adequately to report on continuing complaints
in important categories.
The Complaints Division
should improve the contents of its reports and accelerate its reporting
process so as to enable the Police Complaints Authority thoroughly
to fulfil its statutory functions and so that violations of articles
7 and 9.1 may be properly investigated.
16. The Committee is concerned
about chapter 15.01 of the Police Act which enables any policemen to
arrest persons without a warrant in a large number of circumstances.
Such a vague formulation of the circumstances in the Act gives too generous
an opportunity to the police to exercise this power.
The Committee recommends
that the State party confine its legislation so as to bring it into
conformity with article 9.1 of the Covenant.
17. The Committee expresses
its concern over prison conditions; whilst accepting that the opening
of and phased introduction of prisoners into the new maximum security
prison will, together with the impact of non-custodial sentences reduce
the population held in out-dated establishments, the conditions in these
establishments are incompatible with article 10.
18. The Committee recommends
that legal limitations on abortion be reappraised and that restrictions
which may risk violation of women's rights be removed from the law, by
legislation if necessary (arts. 3, 6.1 and 7).
The new publication
and implementation of the new commission's report on giving effect
to the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners should
be given priority.
19. The Committee is concerned
that the existing laws on defamation could be used to restrict criticism
of the Government or public officials.
20. The Committee has long
awaited information on follow-up of its views as pressed in response to
The State party should
proceed with its proposals to reform the law of defamation, ensuring
a due balance between protection of reputation and freedom of expression
Complete replies should
be given as to the grant of remedies as recommended by the Committee,
in full compliance with article 4.2 of the Optional Protocol.
21. The Committee requests
the State party to submit the fifth periodic report by 31 October 2003.
It requests that the present concluding observations and the next periodic
report be widely disseminated among the public, including civil society
and non-governmental organizations operating in the State party.