Death Penalty Database

Trinidad and Tobago

Information current as of: October 1, 2013

General

Official Country Name

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad and Tobago). [1]

Geographical Region

Latin America (Caribbean). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. The last execution took place in 1999. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

Comments.
Most executions in modern times have been carried out at the State Prison in the capital, Port of Spain. [5]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Trinidad and Tobago Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12650940, Sep. 14, 2012..
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Feb. 11, 2013..
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/011/2013, Apr. 10, 2013. Larry Roberts, Trinidad executes nine in four days, Intl. Committee of the Fourth Intl., http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/cari-j17.shtml , Jun. 17, 1999.
[4] Trinidad and Tobago Treason Act, art. 2, Act No. 16 of 1842, amended by Act No. 45 of 1979, 1979, as updated to Dec. 31, 2011. Larry Roberts, Trinidad executes nine in four days, Intl. Committee of the Fourth Intl., http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/jun1999/cari-j17.shtml , Jun. 17, 1999.
[5] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 16, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.

Country Details

Language(s)

English. [1]

Population

1.3 million (UN, 2011). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

By the end of 2012 there were 36 prisoners under sentence of death according to Amnesty. [3]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on October 18, 2017)

0. [4]

Executions in 2016

0. [5]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [6]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [11]

Executions in 2009

0. [12]

Executions in 2008

0. [13]

Executions in 2007

0. [14]

Year of Last Known Execution

1999. [15]

In 1999, ten people were hanged in Port of Spain within a 6 week period in June and July. The previous execution had taken place in 1994. [16]

References

[1] BBC, Country Profiles: Trinidad and Tobago Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12650940, Sep. 14, 2012.
[2] BBC, Country Profiles: Trinidad and Tobago Profile, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-12650940, Sep. 14, 2012.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, p. 15, ACT 50/011/2013, Apr. 10, 2013.
[4] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[5] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Executions and Death Sentences in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Trinidad and Tobago: First execution in ten years threatened, http://www.amnesty.org.uk/news_details.asp?NewsID=18358, Jul. 31, 2009.
[16] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 17, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder.
Under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1925, every person convicted of murder “shall suffer death.” [1] Murder is defined as unlawfully killing another person with the intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm. The intent to kill is therefore not required in order to trigger a conviction for murder. [2] A person may also be convicted of murder under the common law doctrine of joint enterprise (if a ‘common design’ causes death or grievous bodily harm which was intended or contemplated as a possible consequence of the committed design, and if the defendant committed an act in furtherance of that common design). [3] In 1999 several defendants were executed in Trinidad and Tobago after being convicted under the common design doctrine. [4]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Killing a person in the course of committing a violent offense – known as “violent arrestable offense murder” - is punishable as murder “even if the killing was done without intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.” [5]

Murder is defined as unlawfully killing another person with the intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm. The intent to kill is therefore not required in order to trigger a conviction for murder. [6]

A person may also be convicted of murder under the common law doctrine of joint enterprise (if a ‘common design’ causes death or grievous bodily harm which was intended or contemplated as a possible consequence of the committed design, and if the defendant committed an act in furtherance of that common design). [7]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Anti-Terrorism Law provides for the death penalty only for one specific type of terrorist act: the seizing by force or destruction of a “fixed platform on the continental shelf, or in the exclusive economic zone” of Trinidad, when death results from this offense. [8]

Treason.
Any person “owing allegiance to the state” who forms the intention of making war upon the state or overthrowing the government or constitution and commits an overt act manifesting that intention, or who gives “aid or comfort” to the state’s enemies, has committed treason and is “liable to suffer death by hanging.” [9]

Capital treason is distinguished from offenses “akin to treason” which are not death-eligible, and which include an overt act in furtherance of the intent to depose the president or a member of cabinet, to compel the government to change its measures, or to induce an alien force to invade the country. [10]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Genocide Act provides that any person convicted of genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention will receive the same punishment as that provided for murder as long as the criminal act includes killing members of the targeted group. [11]

Comments.
In October 2000, Parliament passed legislation that was aimed at mitigating the harshness of the mandatory death penalty for murder. [12] However, as soon as the bill was passed in the Senate, a political decision was made to postpone implementation. [13] By the end of our research, we had found no evidence that this bill was ever proclaimed. Under this legislation (the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Act of 2000), only certain types of aggravated murder, known as “Murder 1,” required a death sentence under all circumstances, such as murder of a policeman or judicial officer, murder committed in furtherance of another violent crime, murder committed with an explosive device, murder “manifesting exceptional depravity,” and murder committed because of the victim’s race, religion or nationality. [14] Murder 2, which included non-aggravated murder and killing with gross negligence or recklessness, only resulted in a death sentence if there was a prior conviction for murder. [15] Murder 3, defined as involuntary homicide and including killing by negligence or reckless driving, was not death eligible. [16]

In 2011, another Capital Offences Bill was tabled in Parliament to categorize murder. Because it required amending the constitution, the bill required a three-fourths majority in the House of Representatives and a two-thirds majority in the Senate, which it failed to obtain. [17]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. [18] The mandatory imposition of the death penalty, contained in the Offences Against the Person Act of 1925, is not open to constitutional challenges since the Constitution of 1976 does not affect pre-existing laws. Moreover, the Constitution mandates that the mandatory death penalty can only be repealed by a three-fifths majority in both Houses. [19]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Murder.
Under the Offences Against the Person Act of 1925, every person convicted of murder “shall suffer death.” [20] The statute employs mandatory language (“shall suffer death”) [21] and numerous reports confirm the mandatory nature of the death penalty. [22] Murder is defined as unlawfully killing another person with the intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm. The intent to kill is therefore not required in order to trigger a conviction for murder. [23]

Murder.
Murder is defined as unlawfully killing another person with the intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm. The intent to kill is therefore not required in order to trigger a conviction for murder. [24]

War crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
The Genocide Act provides that any person convicted of genocide as defined by the Genocide Convention will receive the same punishment as that provided for murder, which carries the mandatory death penalty, as long as the criminal act includes killing members of the targeted group. [25]

Comments.
The law is in a state of flux about whether or not the mandatory death penalty applies to treason and acts of terrorism resulting in death. There is a contrast in the statutory language used for murder (convicted defendants “shall suffer death”) [26] and that used for treason (“is liable to suffer death by hanging.”) [27] and terrorism (“is liable…to be sentenced to death.”) [28] Based on these differences in the language of the sentencing provisions, there is at least a strong argument that judges have the discretion to apply or not apply a death sentence to treason and terrorism resulting in death. Reportedly, the issue is currently pending before the Court of Appeal. [29]

The Trinidadian version of felony murder, known as “violent arrestable offence murder” (killing a person in the course of committing a violence offense), was until recently punishable as murder with the mandatory death penalty, “even if the killing was done without intent to kill or to cause grievous bodily harm.” [30] However, in the 2011 Miguel case, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council struck down the mandatory death penalty for felony murder. [31]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

None. There have been no executions since 1999. [32]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
The Children Act provides that no sentence of death may be pronounced against a person “if it appears to the Court that at the time when the offence was committed he was under the age of eighteen years.” A juvenile defendant will instead be sentenced to be detained “during the State’s pleasure.” [33] The judge does not have the power to determine the length of detention for a juvenile. [34] This is in conformity with Trinidad’s obligations as a state party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, [35] pursuant to which it is prohibited to execute juveniles. [36] Amnesty’s research confirms that no juveniles have been executed since 1990, when it started keeping track of executions of child offenders. [37]

Pregnant Women.
A pregnant woman who is convicted of a death-eligible offense shall instead be sentenced to life imprisonment upon a factual determination by the jury that she is pregnant. If the jury finds that she is not pregnant, she may appeal this finding to the Court of Appeal. [38]

Intellectually Disabled.
A person will be sentenced to manslaughter, a non-capital offense, rather than murder, “if he was suffering from such abnormality of mind (whether arising from a condition of arrested or retarded development of mind or any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury) as substantially impaired his mental responsibility for his acts and omissions in doing or being a party to the killing.” [39]

We did not find any statutory provisions prohibiting the execution of intellectually disabled persons with regard to other capital crimes. However, recent case law from the Privy Council confirms the constitutional obligation not to execute prisoners with significant mental impairments. [40]

Mentally Ill.
Persons found to be “insane” cannot stand trial. Instead, the jury may issue a verdict that the defendant is “insane” or a verdict that the defendant is guilty but was insane at the time of the act charged. A defendant who received an “insane” verdict, however, may be tried on the original charges if he subsequently becomes “of sound mind.” [41] Other commentary confirms that mentally ill persons cannot be executed until they recover. [42] The Offenses Against the Person Act specifically excludes persons suffering from an “abnormality of mind” from being sentenced for murder. Abnormality of mind includes states arising from any inherent causes or induced by disease or injury. [43]

References

[1] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[2] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 3, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[3] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 15, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[4] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 15, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[5] Trinidad and Tobago Criminal Law Act, sec. 2(A), Act 20 of 1936, as amended by Act 16 of 1997 and Act 90 of 2000, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[6] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 3, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[7] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 15, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[8] Trinidad and Tobago Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 19(2)(b), Act 26 of 2005, Sept. 13, 2005, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[9] Trinidad and Tobago Treason Act, art. 2, Act 16 of 1842, Jul. 22, 1844, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[10] Trinidad and Tobago Treason Act, art. 3, Act 16 of 1842, Jul. 22, 1844, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[11] Trinidad and Tobago Genocide Act, art. 3(1)(a), Act 1 of 1977, Jan. 31, 1977, updated to Dec. 31, 2011 & Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[12] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Act, Act No. 90 of 2000, Nov. 2, 2000.
[13] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 102, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003. Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, Note on Act 90 of 2000, p. 2, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[14] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, arts. 4D, 4E, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[15] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4H, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[16] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, arts. 4I, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, Appendix: Act 90 of 2000, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[17] Parliament : Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Bills : First Session of the 10th Parliament : The Constitution (Amendment)(Capital Offences) Bill, 2011, last accessed Sep. 22, 2013. Trinidad and Tobago, The Constitution (Amendment) (Capital Offences) Bill, 2011, Bill No. 2 of 2011, First Session of Tenth Parliament.
[18] Matthew v. The State, No. 12 of 2004, [2004] UKPC 33, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jul. 7, 2004.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, pp. 14-15, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[20] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[21] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[22] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 4, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[23] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 3, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[24] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 3, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[25] Trinidad and Tobago Genocide Act, art. 3(1)(a), Act 1 of 1977, Jan. 31, 1977 and Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, combined.
[26] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[27] Trinidad and Tobago Treason Act, art. 2, Act 16 of 1842, amended by Act 45 of 1979, 1979, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[28] Trinidad and Tobago Anti-Terrorism Act, art. 19(2)(b), Act 26 of 2005, Sep. 13, 2005, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[29] Sophia Chote, affiliated with the Criminal Bar of Trinidad and Tobago, and Leela M. Ramdeen, affiliated with the Catholic Commission for Social Justice, e-mail to DPW, DPW Doc. Trinidad E-1, Sep. 21, 2013.
[30] Trinidad and Tobago Criminal Law Act, sec. 2(A), Act 20 of 1936, as amended by Act 16 of 1997 and Act 90 of 2000, updated to Dec. 31, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 4, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[31] Nimrod Miguel v. The State, No. 37 of 2010, [2011] UKPC 14, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jun. 15, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 15, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[32] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[33] Trinidad and Tobago Children Act, s. 79, Act 4 of 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[34] U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, Second periodic Reports of States parties due in 1999, Trinidad and Tobago, para. 257, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/83/Add.12, Nov. 15, 2004.
[35] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, Jun. 8, 2013.
[36] Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, art. 37(a), Nov. 20, 1989.
[37] Amnesty Intl., Executions of Juveniles Since 1990, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/executions-of-child-offenders-since-1990, last accessed Aug. 2, 2013.
[38] Criminal Procedure Act, art. 62, Act 22 of 1925, Jun. 2, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[39] Trinidad and Tobago Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4A, Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 2013, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[40] See, e.g., Pitman v. The State (Trinidad And Tobago), No. 89 of 2005, [2008] UKPC 16, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Mar. 3, 2008. Nigel Brown v. The State, No. 107 of 2010, [2012] UKPC 2, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Feb. 7, 2012.
[41] Criminal Procedure Act, arts. 64-66, Act 22 of 1925, Jun. 2, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[42] Roger Hood & Carolyn Hoyle, The Death Penalty: A Worldwide Perspective, p. 208, Oxford University Press, 4th ed., 2008.
[43] Offences Against the Person Act, art. 4A(1), Act 10 of 1925, Apr. 3, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

Dec. 21, 1978. [2]

Signed?

No. [3]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. The government of Trinidad and Tobago denounced the Optional Protocol of the ICCPR then re-acceded with a reservation that death row inmates cannot file complaints with the HRC. Other governments objected to this reservation. For instance, on August 6, 1999, Denmark stated that Trinidad’s reservation “raises doubts as to the commitment of Trinidad and Tobago to the object and purpose of the Optional Protocol. […] Denying the benefits of the Optional Protocol to a group of individuals under the most severe sentence is not in conformity with the object and purpose of the Optional Protocol.” [4]

In the case of Kennedy v. Trinidad and Tobago, the HRC found the reservation incompatible with the object and purpose of the Optional Protocol and therefore invalid. [5] Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from the Optional Protocol completely on June 27, 2000. [6]

Date of Accession

November 14, 1980. Trinidad and Tobago has since denounced the Protocol, with effect from June 27, 2000. [7]

Signed?

No. [8]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [9]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [10]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

No. Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the Convention on April 3, 1991, but it denounced the Convention on May 26, 1998, putting forward similar arguments to those used when it withdrew from the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. [11] The denunciation came into effect one year later . [12]

Date of Accession

Trinidad and Tobago acceded to the Convention on April 3, 1991, but it denounced the Convention on May 26, 1998. The denunciation came into effect one year later. [13]

Signed?

No. [14]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

No. [15]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [16]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [19]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Against. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

Against. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [25]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [26]

Vote

Against. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [28]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [29]

Vote

Against. [30]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [31]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [32]

Vote

Against. [33]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [34]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[5] Kennedy v. Trinidad and Tobago, CCPR/C/67/D/845/1999, U.N. Human Rights Committee, Dec. 31, 1999.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[9] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en , last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[10] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 13, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[12] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[13] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[14] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[15] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[16] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[17] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[18] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[19] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[20] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[21] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[22] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[23] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[24] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[26] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[27] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[28] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[29] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[30] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty: Resolution, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[31] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[32] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[33] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[34] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Yes. The Constitution recognizes the “right of the individual to life” which cannot be taken away without due process of law, [1] implying that the death penalty is constitutional within the legal framework. The Constitution also forbids Parliament from imposing or authorizing cruel and unusual punishment or treatment. [2] However, a “savings clause” precludes application of these fundamental rights to (1) laws that existed when the Constitution was promulgated in 1976; and (2) existing laws that are later amended without creating new derogations to fundamental rights. [3] Furthermore, any constitutional protection of fundamental rights and freedoms may be overridden by a vote of three-fifths of each House of Parliament, “unless the Act is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a society that has a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual.” [4]

The Constitution grants the President the power to grant a pardon, a respite, a commutation or a decrease of sentence for all offenders including those sentenced to death. In the case of a death sentence, an Advisory Committee on the Power of Pardon, consisting of a Minister designated by the President, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and up to four other members appointed by the President, tenders advice to the Minister before the Minister makes a recommendation to the President. The Minister must ensure that the written case report from the capital trial is taken into consideration by the Advisory Committee. [5]

Finally, the Constitution disqualifies those sentenced to death from holding public office as a Senator or Member of the House of Representatives. [6]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The Constitution provides that the Ombudsman of Trinidad and Tobago has no jurisdiction to investigate any civil or criminal proceedings commenced in Trinidad and Tobago or before any international tribunal or court. [7]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

While Trinidad has not carried out any executions since 1999, its abolitionist de facto status is the particular result of the jurisprudence of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council based in the United Kingdom, which as a result of Trinidad’s colonial past remains its highest appellate court. Without the Privy Council’s restrictive constitutional interpretations, Trinidad and Tobago would in all probability continue to carry out executions.

There are many indicators of Trinidad’s willingness to implement the death penalty. Trinidad is one of the few countries in the Caribbean to regularly hand down death sentences. [8] In 2012, its courts handed down 5 death sentences; [9] in 2011, they issued 2. [10] In January 2012, the Prime Minister stated publicly that the government was committed to implementing the death penalty, [11] and the Opposition similarly supports capital punishment. [12] Trinidad has voted against all four of the UN General Assembly’s Resolutions for a global moratorium on executions. [13] Within the English-speaking Caribbean, Trinidad has had the most executions since its independence, including 10 carried out in 1999, the year of its last execution, [14] and Trinidad has one of the largest death rows in the Caribbean. [15]

Moreover, in January 2011 the government introduced a bill to facilitate resuming executions, but Parliament rejected the bill in February of the same year. [16] The proposed bill would have amended the constitution and allowed executions to be carried out with appeals still pending before international tribunals, in violation of international human rights norms. [17] Prior to the parliamentary vote, both government and opposition parties had expressed their support for the death penalty. Opposition to the bill stemmed not from its obvious violations of international law, but from its perceived inability to facilitate the resumption of executions. The leader of the opposition party stated that the bill would “effectively abolish” capital punishment. [18]

While it supports capital punishment generally, the current government is also in favor of decreasing the breadth of application of the mandatory death penalty. The failed 2011 legislation would have categorized murders into three categories in order to limit the death penalty to the most serious forms of murder. [19] Attorney General Anand Ramlogan stated in June 2013 that the government continued to support reforms to make the application of the death penalty more discretionary. [20] Ramlogan also supports the removal of juries in criminal trials. [21] When the JCPC struck down the mandatory death penalty in June 2011 for Trinidad’s version of felony murder, the Attorney General commented that this ruling was a vindication of the government’s position on the death penalty, and called upon the opposition to “to support sensible legislation consistent with legal developments and trends in other parts of the world.” [22] The death penalty for felony murder remains valid law in its non-mandatory form. [23]

There are, however, a handful of signs that Trinidad’s death penalty policies have been influenced by the global movement away from capital punishment. It has passed fewer death sentences in recent years than it did at its peak of 2008-2009 (with 10 and 11 death sentences respectively). [24] In 2012, Trinidad also refrained, for the first time, from the signing the Note Verbale denouncing the U.N. General Assembly’s resolution on a global moratorium on executions. [25]

Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from the ICCPR’s First Optional Protocol and the American Convention to limit the scope of the international courts’ jurisdiction in death penalty cases. [26] Though capital cases cannot receive international review because Trinidad and Tobago has denounced the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights [27] and the UN Human Rights Committee, [28] they are subject to the rulings of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, and JCPC rulings have had the effect of limiting the application of the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago. [29] There are ongoing discussions to remove the JCPC as a court of final instance and to replace it with the Caribbean Court of Justice, at least with regard to criminal matters. Effecting such a change would require a three-fourths majority in the House and a two-thirds majority in the Senate. So far, efforts to reach the required majority have failed. [30]

Capital punishment in Trinidad has been the subject of several recent in-depth studies.
- On the subject of deterrence and efficiency, a study published in 2012 found no correlation between executions, imprisonment and crime: “over a span of 50 years, during which these sanctions were being deployed in degrees that varied substantially, neither imprisonment nor death sentences nor executions had any significant relationship to homicides. In the years immediately following an appeals court’s determination limiting executions, the murder rate fell.” [31]
- Another study found that although capital punishment is “mandatory,” its application to murder cases was rare and arbitrary. The study, conducted jointly by the University of the West Indies and Oxford University, found that between 1998 and 2002, 5% of murder cases resulted in convictions, and 92% of those death sentences were overturned on appeal. Moreover, gang-related murders – which political rhetoric has particularly targeted as the source of the country’s high criminality rates – had a particularly low rate of convictions because of the extensive links between law enforcement agencies and criminal gangs. [32]
- A 2009 study concluded that there was very little support for the mandatory death penalty – less than one in ten – from experienced judicial and legal professionals in Trinidad. [33]
- Finally, a 2011 study on public support for the death penalty revealed a significant gap between support for the death penalty in theory and the public’s willingness to impose capital punishment in specific factual circumstances. The study concluded that while 91% of the surveyed group supported the death penalty, only 26% of the group supported the mandatory death penalty for murder, and when presented with evidence that innocent people had been executed, that number fell to 14%. In terms of which policies were most likely to lead to a decrease in fatal violence, only 21% of respondents thought that an increase in the number of executions would be most effective. A minority of those who supported the mandatory death penalty, 39%, found execution appropriate for all three factual scenarios presented. [34]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. Trinidad and Tobago’s four-time vote against the UN General Assembly’s Moratorium Resolution, most recently in 2012, [35] indicates the state wishes to reserve its right to carry out executions. In 2011, Trinidad also rejected all the recommendations it received at its Universal Periodic Review to institute a moratorium on executions. [36]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

The mandatory death penalty.

In Roodal v. State (2003), the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council struck down the mandatory death penalty as cruel and unusual punishment; however, in Matthew v. State (2004), a full panel of the JCPC overturned Roodal, holding that, despite the international consensus that the mandatory death penalty is cruel and unusual and violates due process, Article 6(1)(a) of the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago precludes a challenge to the mandatory death penalty. Because the mandatory death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago is a law that predates the formation of its Constitution, the “savings clause” contained in Article 6(1)(a) precludes a human rights-based challenge to the mandatory death penalty. However, the JCPC held that sentences quashed under Roodal would not be reinstated. [37]

In 2011, the JCPC revisited the issue of the mandatory death penalty in Miguel v. State and ruled that the mandatory death penalty for felony murder (known as “violent arrestable offence murder”) was cruel and unusual punishment and as such unconstitutional on its face. Moreover, the court pointed out that, unlike simple murder, felony murder and its mandatory capital sentence were re-introduced by the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act of 1997 after a brief period during which felony murder disappeared. Although felony murder was derived from common law and the mandatory sentence for felony murder had existed prior to the Constitution, its re-introduction was still “new law” and thus not covered by the saving clause. In order to be properly enacted, the felony murder amendment would have required a 3/5 majority vote. Consequently, the JCPC upheld Miguel’s conviction and quashed his death penalty. [38] In consequence of the Miguel decision, those sentenced to death under the felony murder rule are now entitled to a new sentencing hearing. [39]

The 1993 JCPC ruling in Pratt & Morgan v. Jamaica (1993) has, in practice, prevented Trinidad and Tobago from carrying out executions of death-sentenced prisoners who spend more than 5 years on death row. [40] Because the appeals process tends to take more than 5 years, Pratt seriously limits the application of the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago. [41]

Quality of Legal Representation.

The 2001 Boodram case underlined the grave deficiencies of the public legal aid system in capital cases and established minimum standards for competent representation. The defendant was assigned a legal aid lawyer on appeal from her murder conviction because she could not afford to hire her trial lawyer. Her appointed counsel was not informed that he was to appear for her until the end of the prosecution’s case and did not request any transcripts or documents from the trial. The JCPC ruled that the lawyer’s multiple failures revealed “either gross incompetence or a cynical dereliction of the most elementary professional duties” and held that “the breaches are of such a fundamental nature that the conclusion must be that the defendant was deprived of due process.” The JCPC described the appeal as “the worst case of the failure of counsel to carry out his duties in a criminal case that their Lordships have come across.” Consequently, the death sentence in this case was quashed. [42]

Mental impairment.

In Pitman v. The State (2008), the JCPC affirmed the principle that no person with significant mental impairment or mental illness may be executed. The defendant was detained and interrogated for 12 hours without lawyer, following which he signed a confession without being given a chance to read it. Subsequently, new evidence of intellectual disability emerged. The JCPC ruled that the new evidence cast doubt on the validity of the confession and referred the case back to the Court of Appeal. [43]

The Nigel Brown case illustrates another problem with mental health assessments, which is that they are frequently carried out in a meaningful way only at the final appeal stage. A 2004 psychological assessment of the defendant conducted at the request of the High Court found that he was competent to stand trial. Following Brown’s conviction for murder, however, a 2010 assessment conducted while his appeal was before the JCPC found that he suffered from “a mental disorder in the form of significantly impaired cognitive functioning and impairment in functional skills.” Two experts stated that he was unfit to stand trial. The JCPC concluded that his conviction was unsafe and returned it to the Court of Appeal for review, expressing concern that “these reports have been produced ex post facto and without any explanation as to why medical evidence on the issue of fitness to plead has not been produced before now”. [44] The absence of systematic mental health assessments is particularly problematic in a context where a conviction may trigger a mandatory death sentence. According to the Death Penalty Project, between February 2008 and May 2012 at least seven prisoners under sentence of death were found to be suffering from some kind of mental impairment and had their cases remitted for review to the Court of Appeal by the JCPC. [45]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

All of the Privy Council’s judgments issued after July 2009 can be found on its website at http://www.jcpc.gov.uk/decided-cases/index.html. Earlier Privy Council judgments can be found on BAILII at http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKPC. The Privy Council Papers website provides detailed case records for all appeals considered by the JCPC between 1792 and 1998: http://www.privycouncilpapers.org.

The website of the Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s website hosts a Court Library Database which includes the decisions of the Supreme Court of Trinidad since 1990 and selected decisions from the Court of Appeal and High Court: http://www.ttlawcourts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2090&Itemid=160

The Judiciary website also provides links to judgments entered in the past three years at: http://www.ttlawcourts.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=archive&catid=77§ionid=28&Itemid=216&archiveok=yes

Further selected Court of Appeal decisions from 1996 to 2006 are available on CommonLII at http://www.commonlii.org/tt/cases/TTCA/recent.html.

What is the clemency process?

The Constitution grants the President the power to grant a pardon, a respite, a commutation or a decrease of sentence for all offenders including those sentenced to death. In the case of a death sentence, an Advisory Committee on the Power of Pardon, consisting of a Minister designated by the President, the Attorney General, the Director of Public Prosecutions and up to four other members appointed by the President, tenders advice to the Minister before the Minister makes a recommendation to the President. The Minister must ensure that the written case report from the capital trial is taken into consideration by the Advisory Committee. [46]

During a capital case, the President can also indicate an intent to pardon an offender, and the court will treat this as a pardon conditional on imprisonment and sentence the offender to imprisonment rather than death. [47]

In practice death sentences are commuted to imprisonment terms of 75 years, which in almost all cases will be equivalent to life without parole. [48]

Prior to the Privy Council’s 2000 decision in Neville Lewis v. Attorney - General of Jamaica, [49] in which Trinidad intervened, death row inmates only found out that their clemency request had been rejected when they were presented with an execution warrant. Since the Lewis decision, however, death row inmates have had the right to make written submissions before the Advisory Committee and to be given reasons if the decision departs from the ruling or recommendation of an international human rights body. [50]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Every person charged with a criminal indictment is tried by a judge and jury. [51] The jury is composed of 12 citizens charged with making determinations of fact. The judge’s role is to make determinations of law and explain the law to the jury. [52] A murder conviction requires a unanimous jury. [53] A convicted person is sentenced by the court and not by the jury. [54]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Criminal trials on indictable matters are heard by the High Court. [55] Pursuant to the Constitution, appeals to the Court of Appeal from the High Court lie as of right in any criminal matter involving constitutional questions, and appeals to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council lie as of right for constitutional questions. [56] However, while the Constitution purports to guarantee a right to bring a constitutional challenge before the final appeals court in London, the JCPC only hears cases with leave and rarely grants such leave, especially for decisions that turn on a determination of fact, even where there is an allegation of insufficient evidence. [57] It also appears from reliable sources (though we did not find the relevant legislative text) that if the JCPC refuses leave, a constitutional challenge on appeal may be brought back to the High Court. [58] However, such appeals are severely restricted in practice by the unavailability of legal aid. [59]

Pursuant to the Supreme Court of Judicature Act, any person who is convicted upon indictment by a High Court has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal upon any question of law alone. Criminal appeals on questions of fact or of mixed law and fact and on sentences are permissible with leave of the Court of Appeal. [60]

No death sentence may be executed until after the deadline for applying for leave to appeal has passed and until after all avenues of appeals have been exhausted. [61]

References

[1] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, art. 4(a), Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[2] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, art. 5(2)(b), Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[3] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, art. 6, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 14, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[4] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, art. 13, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 14, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[5] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arts. 87-89, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[6] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arts. 42(1)(e), 48(1)(d), Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[7] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, art. 94 & Third Schedule (art. 5), Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 10, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2013: Trinidad and Tobago, p. 271, Index: POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 10, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2013: Trinidad and Tobago, p. 271, Index: POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Trinidad and Tobago : Further Information : Execution Bill Defeated, Index: AMR 49/003/2011, Mar. 2, 2011.
[13] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012. U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010. U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty: Resolution, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008. U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[14] Mark James, Major steps to abolish death penalty in CARICOM, Catholic Commission for Social Justice, rcsocialjusticett.org/2.0/2010/10/28/major-steps-to-abolish-death-penalty-in-caricom, Oct. 28, 2010.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 7, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2012 : Trinidad and Tobago, http://www.amnesty.org/en/annual-report/2012, 2012.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 14, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Trinidad and Tobago : Further Information : Execution Bill Defeated, Index: AMR 49/003/2011, Mar. 2, 2011.
[19] Darren Bahaw : DPP : Milestone ruling to revolutionise death penalty, www.trinidadexpress.com/news/DPP__Milestone_ruling_to_revolutionise_death_penalty_-124051164.html, Jun. 17, 2011.
[20] Gail Alexander, Abolitionists to hold conference in Spain, www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-06-11/abolitionists-hold-conference-spain, Trinidad Guardian, Jun. 11, 2013.
[21] Trinidad Guardian, Ramlogan wants Opposition support for death penalty, guardian.co.tt/news/2013-03-03/ramlogan-wants-opposition-support-death-penalty, Mar. 3, 2013.
[22] Darren Bahaw : DPP : Milestone ruling to revolutionise death penalty, www.trinidadexpress.com/news/DPP__Milestone_ruling_to_revolutionise_death_penalty_-124051164.html, Jun. 17, 2011.
[23] Darren Bahaw : DPP : Milestone ruling to revolutionise death penalty, www.trinidadexpress.com/news/DPP__Milestone_ruling_to_revolutionise_death_penalty_-124051164.html, Jun. 17, 2011.
[24] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 7, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[26] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013. Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[27] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[28] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jul. 31, 2013.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action, First Execution in Ten Years Threatened, AMR 49/001/2009, Jul. 24, 2009.
[30] Dr. Hamid Ghany, The CCJ and the Death Penalty, Trinidad Guardian, www.guardian.co.tt/columnist/2013-05-19/ccj-and-death-penalty, May 19, 2013. Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, Death Penalty Cases for Final Court, www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,159111.html, Apr. 26, 2012. Andre Bagoo, Hangings Could Resume, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday, www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,159106.html, Apr. 26, 2012.
[31] David F. Greenberg and Biko Agozino, Executions, imprisonment and crime in Trinidad and Tobago, British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 52, p. 113, 2012.
[32] Roger Hood and Florence Seemungal, A rare and arbitrary fate: Conviction for Murder, the Mandatory Death Penalty and the Reality of Homicide in Trinidad and Tobago: A Report to the Death Penalty Project, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/documents/rep-2006-rare-and-arbitrary-en.pdf, University of the West Indies Faculty of Law and University of Oxford Centre for Criminology, 2006.
[33] Roger Hood, Florence Seemungal, Douglas Mendes, & Jeffrey Fagan, A Penalty Without Legitimacy The Mandatory Death Penalty In Trinidad and Tobogo, Death Penalty Project, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/assets/7/original/09.08.10_Trinidad_Publication.pdf?1259080068, Mar. 7, 2009.
[34] Roger Hood and Florence Seemungal, Public Opinion on the Mandatory Death Penalty in Trinidad : A Summary of the Main Findings of a Survey : A Report for the Death Penalty Project and the Rights Advocacy Project of the University of the West Indies Faculty of Law, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/fulltexts/49/original/11.02.23_SUMMARY_EDITED_PO_REPORT_REVISED_23_FEB1.pdf?1298482044, Feb. 23, 2011.
[35] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[36] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Trinidad and Tobago, para. 89, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/7, Dec. 14, 2011.
[37] Matthew v. State, No. 12 of 2004, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 2004. Roodal v. State, No. 18 of 2003, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 2003.
[38] Nimrod Miguel v. The State, No. 37 of 2010, [2011] UKPC 14, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jun. 15, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 15, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[39] Dana Seetahal, The Privy Council Has Done It Again, Trinidad Express, www.trinidadexpress.com/commentaries/The_Privy_Council_has_done_it_again-124120214.html, Jun. 18, 2011.
[40] Pratt & Morgan v. Jamaica, No. 10 of 1993, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, 1993.
[41] Darcus Howe, The Privy Council halts Caribbean hangings, New Statesman, http://www.newstatesman.com/node/138775, Oct. 16, 2000. Amnesty Intl., Urgent Action, First Execution in Ten Years Threatened, AMR 49/001/2009, Jul. 24, 2009. Attorney General v. Boyce, paras. 15, 47, 117, 126, 131, 138-139, Appeal No. CV 2 of 2005, Caribbean Court of Justice, Jun. 21, 2006 (discussing the effect of the 5-year limit imposed by Pratt).
[42] Ann Marie Boodram v. The State, para. 40, Appeal No. 65 of 2000, JCPC, Apr. 10, 2011.
[43] Pitman v. The State (Trinidad And Tobago), No. 89 of 2005, [2008] UKPC 16, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Mar. 3, 2008.
[44] Nigel Brown v. The State, No. 107 of 2010, [2012] UKPC 2, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Feb. 7, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, pp. 19-20, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[45] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 20, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[46] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arts. 87-89, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[47] Criminal Procedure Act, art. 70, Act 22 of 1925, Jun. 2, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[48] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 108, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[49] [2001] 2 A.C. 50.
[50] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 109-113, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[51] Trinidad and Tobago Criminal Procedure Act, art. 6, Act 22 of 1925, Jun. 2, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[52] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 24, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[53] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 25, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[54] Trinidad and Tobago Criminal Procedure Act, art. 46(1), Act 22 of 1925, Jun. 2, 1925, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[55] Catherine A. Deane and Vincent Moyer, Trinidad and Tobago Law and Legal Research, GlobaLex, http://www.nyulawglobal.org/Globalex/Trinidad_Tobago1.htm#judicialbranch, Apr. 2013.
[56] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arts. 108-109, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[57] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 91-92, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[58] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 95-96, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[59] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 95-96, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[60] Trinidad and Tobago Supreme Court of Judicature Act, art. 43, Act 12 of 1962, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[61] Trinidad and Tobago Supreme Court of Judicature Act, art. 51, Act 12 of 1962, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Male inmates are held at Frederick Street Prison at Port of Spain. [1] Female death row inmates are held at the Golden Grove Prison in Arouca. [2]

Description of Prison Conditions

Prison conditions in Trinidad are described as “harsh.” Extreme overcrowding is a problem in some prisons, especially the State Prison in Port of Spain, with as many as 10 prisoners being kept in 10 by 10 foot cells. [3]

In both the Port of Spain prison and in Golden Grove Prison, lighting and ventilation are insufficient. However, inmates in Port of Spain have access to medical care thanks to the proximity of the general hospital. In both prisons, prisoners have access to potable water and pretrial detainees are held separately from convicted prisoners. Juveniles are also held separately from adults. Conditions in the women’s prison are generally better than those in the men’s prison. [4]

In a January 2011 interview, the newly-appointed inspector of prisons Daniel Khan noted that he would devote particular attention to the detention conditions of death row inmates and to ensuring that the implementation of practices be “as humane as possible” – such as guaranteeing the availability of last meals, last rites and visits from religious representatives. [5] In his December 2012 report, inspector Khan concluded that conditions in the Port of Spain prison, which one judge called “a hell hole,” were so dire that it should be shut down. [6]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

We did not find reports of foreign nationals under sentence of death. [7]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

There are no known foreign nationals on death row in Trinidad as of August 2013. [8]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

As of March 2009 there were six women were held on death row. [9] However, a more recent report from June 2013 notes that there is only one woman on death row. [10]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of individuals sentenced to death for a crime committed while under the age of 18.

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

We were unable to find recent information on the composition of death row. A list of death row inmates looking for pen pals in 2006 suggests that death row includes individuals who are black, Hispanic, white, and from mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds. [11]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

The law provides that an attorney is provided at public expense to defendants facing trial for an indictable offense. [12]

In practice, most capital murder defendants rely on legal aid. However, fees are low and the length of trials discourages many lawyers from taking these cases. As a result, a single murder case will typically involve multiple lawyers at different stages of the proceedings. [13]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

The law provides that an attorney is provided at public expense to criminal defendants wishing to mount an appeal with the Court of Appeal. [14] However, it is not clear whether this right is always available in practice. In 2005, a petitioner to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights testified that legal aid is not available for constitutional challenges in domestic courts [15] (even though the right of appeal on such grounds is constitutionally guaranteed). [16]

Furthermore, because legal aid does not cover the filing of a Notice of Appeal, defendants are often left to their own devices once their trial is over. An appellate attorney will only be assigned once the Notice of Appeal is filed, but most capital defendants are ill-equipped to file it themselves; many have problems with basic reading and writing skills. Consequently, appellate lawyers are frequently appointed only days before the appeal hearing, leaving insufficient time for preparation unless the court is willing to grant an adjournment. As a result, appeals are generally limited to errors below since attorneys are not given the resources to re-investigate and to gather new evidence. [17]

Appeals to the final appellate court, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London, are not covered by legal aid legislation. Although the JCPC invariably recommends that the state cover the costs of the appeal, Trinidad does not follow these recommendations, so the only possible form of representation for almost all defendants is by solicitors and barristers in London on a pro bono basis. [18]

Constitutional appeals to the High Court, should the JCPC deny leave, are theoretically covered by legal aid but in practice this right is severely restricted for two reasons. First, legal aid will only be granted if the defendant can show that his appeal is meritorious, which is difficult to do without a lawyer; and secondly, constitutional challenges are often brought when executions are only days away, leaving little time for a legal aid application to be processed. [19]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

The first time a defendant may request legal aid is at the Preliminary Inquiry, in which a magistrate determines whether there is sufficient evidence for a trial before the High Court. Consequently, defendants are almost invariably unrepresented during questioning at the police station. There is no limit on how long a person may be detained at a police station without charge, but as a general rule the pre-charge detention will last over 48 hours. This is a very significant flaw in the availability of legal aid, because defense lawyers have testified that “[i]n the majority of capital cases the prosecution will rely on a statement allegedly provided by the defendant voluntarily whilst the defendant maintains it was obtained as a result of ill - treatment.” Further compounding this problem is the lack of a written confession rule and the admissibility of verbal statements allegedly made by the defendant and testified to by the interrogating police officer. [20]

The quality of legal representation provided at public expense is deficient. Assigned defense counsel tend to be relatively inexperienced as a result of what the Court of Appeal called the “ridiculously low fee” paid to defense counselors under the legal aid legislation. [21] In 1999, legislation increased the fees payable to defense counselors and the discretion of courts to award higher fees for more costly cases, and under this legislation it is also more likely that attorneys will be assigned to legal aid cases with sufficient time to prepare a competent defense. [22]

The quality of legal representation on appeal is also inadequate. Because legal aid does not cover the filing of a Notice of Appeal, defendants are often left to their own devices once their trial is over. An appellate attorney will only be assigned once the Notice of Appeal is filed, but most capital defendants are ill-equipped to file it themselves; many have problems with basic reading and writing skills. Consequently, appellate lawyers are frequently appointed only days before the appeal hearing, leaving insufficient time for preparation unless the court is willing to grant an adjournment. As a result, appeals are generally limited to errors below since attorneys are not given the resources to re-investigate and to gather new evidence. [23]

The 2001 Boodram case underlined the grave deficiencies of the public legal aid system in capital cases. The defendant was assigned a legal aid lawyer on appeal from her murder conviction because she could not afford to hire her trial lawyer. Her appointed counsel was not informed that he was to appear for her until the end of the prosecution’s case and did not request any transcripts or documents from the trial. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council found that the lawyer’s multiple failures revealed “either gross incompetence or a cynical dereliction of the most elementary professional duties”. The JCPC held that “the breaches are of such a fundamental nature that the conclusion must be that the defendant was deprived of due process” and that it was “the worst case of the failure of counsel to carry out his duties in a criminal case that their Lordships have come across.” [24]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Lengthy pretrial detention continues to be a problem and results in heavy court backlogs. Accused persons may be incarcerated for months, if not years, while waiting for their trial dates. [25] In September 2011, the Justice Minister announced that there was a backlog of about 100,000 criminal cases. A law to expedite criminal trials was passed in December 2011, [26] and was due to come into force in January 2013 amid worries that existing infrastructure would prevent the law from being properly implemented. [27]

The government’s response to high levels of crime has been heavy-handed and has infringed upon fundamental guarantees of fairness in criminal proceedings. In 2011, a state of emergency was declared between August and December in response to rising crime levels, especially organized crime. During the state of emergency, police had the authority to conduct searches and make arrests without warrants, and instituted a night-time curfew. [28]

For several years, there have been continued reports of unlawful killings by the police. [29]

In 2011, Trinidad and Tobago amended its Evidence Act to make certain forms of hearsay evidence admissible (statements of witnesses who retract their statements, who are reluctant to give evidence in the court, or who are no longer available, including because they have died), even though such evidence cannot be tested through cross-examination. [30]

Forensic services are insufficient. A 2011 study of the Forensic Pathology Subdivision of the Forensic Science Center found that there was a shortage of forensic pathologists which, combined with increasing workloads and dependence on untrained police investigators to carry out death scene assessments, heightened the risk of errors in the preservation of evidence and of producing inaccurate autopsy reports. There are no fingerprint or DNA databases. [31]

References

[1] Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, The Caribbean: Trinidad/Tobago, http://www.ccadp.org/islands.htm, Feb. 16, 2006.
[2] Francis Joseph, 86 killers escape hangman, Trinidad and Tobago’s Newsday, http://newsday.co.tt/news/0,19782.html, Jul. 8, 2004.
[3] U.S. State Department, 2012 Human Rights Reports : Trinidad and Tobago, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/wha/204482.htm, Apr. 19, 2013.
[4] U.S. State Department, 2012 Human Rights Reports : Trinidad and Tobago, Prison and Detention Center Conditions, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/wha/204482.htm, Apr. 19, 2013.
[5] Trinidad Guardian, New prisons’ inspector : Don’t expect magic wand, www.guardian.co.tt/news/2011/01/22/don-t-expect-magic-wand, Jan. 22, 2011.
[6] Clevon Raphael, Prison reform will reduce crime – Khan, Trinidad Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-04-06/prison-reform-will-reduce-crime-khan, Apr. 7, 2013.
[7] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[8] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[9] Yvonne Baboolal, One day at a time, Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, Mar. 15, 2009.
[10] Gail Alexander, Abolitionists hold conference in Spain, Trinidad Guardian, www.guardian.co.tt/news/2013-06-11/abolitionists-hold-conference-spain, Jun. 11, 2013.
[11] Canadian Coalition Against the Death Penalty, The Caribbean: Trinidad/Tobago, http://www.ccadp.org/islands.htm, Feb. 16, 2006.
[12] Trinidad and Tobago Legal Aid and Advice Act, art. 17, Act 25 of 1976, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 17, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[14] Trinidad and Tobago Legal Aid and Advice Act, art. 18(1), Act 25 of 1976, updated to Dec. 31, 2011.
[15] Lendore v. Trinidad and Tobago, para. 9, Report No. 21/05, Inter-Amer. Commn. on Human Rights, 2005.
[16] The Constitution of The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arts. 108-109, Act 4 of 1976, last amended by Act 89 of 2000, 2003.
[17] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 86-89, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[18] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 91-94, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[19] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 95-96, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[20] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, para. 41, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[21] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras., Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[22] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 41-56, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003..
[23] Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 86-89, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.
[24] Ann Marie Boodram v. The State, para. 40, Appeal No. 65 of 2000, JCPC, Apr. 10, 2011.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, 2012 Human Rights Report: Trinidad and Tobago, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2012/wha/204482.htm, Apr. 19, 2013.
[26] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2012 : Trinidad and Tobago, http://www.amnesty.org/en/annual-report/2012, 2012.
[27] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2013: Trinidad and Tobago, p. 271, Index: POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[28] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2012 : Trinidad and Tobago, http://www.amnesty.org/en/annual-report/2012, 2012.
[29] Amnesty Intl., Annual Report 2013: Trinidad and Tobago, p. 271, Index: POL 10/001/2013, May 23, 2013.
[30] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[31] Trinidad Guardian, Certain practices can create room for flaws, http://guardian.co.tt/2012-01-24/certain-practices-can-create-room-flaws, Jan. 24, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 18, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

In 1998, Trinidad and Tobago entered a reservation to the First Optional Protocol in order to exclude capital defendants and death row inmates from the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee. [1] The Human Rights Committee ruled that to exclude a whole group of persons from this right was so discriminatory and contrary to the object and purpose of the ICCPR that such a reservation was invalid. [2] Following this ruling, Trinidad and Tobago withdrew definitively from the First Optional Protocol, with effect from June 27, 2000. [3]

The Human Rights Committee in its Concluding Observations pursuant to periodic review of human rights in Trinidad and Tobago in 2000 expressed regret that Trinidad and Tobago had denounced the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR. The HRC recommended that Trinidad and Tobago bring its law into compliance with Article 6 of the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, reclassify murder convictions to comply with Article 6 of the Convention, and assure the right of representation to those accused of capital crimes. [4]

The Human Rights Committee discussed the death penalty in Trinidad on numerous occasions before Trinidad’s withdrawal from the First Optional Protocol. Prior to 2004, the Human Rights Committee adopted 23 communications which found that Trinidad and Tobago had violated rights contained in the ICCPR related to the implementation of the death penalty. These included violations of the right to life, the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment, the right to be brought promptly before a judge, the right to a fair trial, the right of persons deprived of their liberty to be treated with dignity, the right to privacy and/or freedom of religion. [5] For instance, the HRC has implied that past conditions for death row prisoners have contributed to mental instability or insanity. [6] The HRC also found that Trinidad had arbitrarily deprived a death row prisoner of his life by carrying out his execution while his sentence was being challenged before the state’s courts, the Privy Council and the Human Rights Committee. [7]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

At its Universal Periodic Review in 2011, Trinidad rejected all recommendations to abolish the death penalty or institute an official moratorium on executions. [8] The governmental delegation stated that because no executions had been carried out since 1999, there had been a “functional” moratorium on capital punishment. The delegation added that there was a rich and continuing national debate on the issue. [9] The government noted that the Privy Council had confirmed the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty for murder in the Matthews case, but added that the government was in the process of reviewing its laws to introduce 3 categories of murder to limit the death penalty to “the most egregious cases.” [10] Moreover, the government was sensitive to public support for capital punishment given the country’s “alarming murder statistics.” [11] Finally, the government underlined that in its view, the death penalty was a matter that fell within the national jurisdiction of sovereign states. [12]

Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from the American Convention on Human Rights largely to deny death row prisoners the ability to submit petitions to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. [13] The Inter-American human rights system therefore currently has no jurisdiction over the implementation of the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago.

References

[1] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 18, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.
[2] Kennedy v. Trinidad and Tobago, CCPR/C/67/D/845/1999, U.N. Human Rights Committee, Dec. 31, 1999. Amnesty Intl., Trinidad and Tobago: Human rights concerns in Trinidad and Tobago: Amnesty International Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review October 2011, Index AMR 49/006/2011, Jul. 31, 2011.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Aug. 6, 2013.
[4] U.N. ICCPR, Human Rights Committee, Concluding Observations: Trinidad and Tobago, para. 7, U.N. Doc. CCPR/CO/70/TTO, Nov. 3, 2000.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1, paras. 63-64, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/12/TTO/2, Jul. 25, 2011.
[6] Sahadath v. Trinidad and Tobago, Communication No. 684/1996, Human Rights Committee, Apr. 2, 2002. See, also, Evans v. Trinidad and Tobago, Communication No. 98/2000, Human Rights Committee, Apr. 4, 2003; Siewpersaud v. Trinidad and Tobago, Communication No. 938/2000, Human Rights Committee, Jul. 29, 2004; others available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/TTIndex.aspx.
[7] Ashby v. Trinidad and Tobago, Communication No. 580/1994, Human Rights Committee, Mar. 21, 2002.
[8] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Trinidad and Tobago, para. 89, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/7, Dec. 14, 2011.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 15, ACT 50/001/2012, Mar. 27, 2012.
[10] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1*: Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 48-53, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/12/TTO/1, Jul. 19, 2011.
[11] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review : Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 17-19, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/19/7, Dec. 14, 2011.
[12] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1*: Trinidad and Tobago, paras. 48-53, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/12/TTO/1, Jul. 19, 2011.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty in the English-Speaking Caribbean: A Human Rights Issue, p. 13, Index AMR 05/001/2012, Nov. 30, 2012.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Catholic Commission for Social Justice (CCSJ)
Mrs. Leela Ramdeen
Chair
27 Maraval Road
Port of Spain
Trinidad and Tobago
socialjustice@rcpos.org
(+1) 8686226680

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

Desmond Allum & Gregory Delzin, Report on the Criminal Justice System in Trinidad and Tobago, Bar Human Rights Committee, http://www.barhumanrights.org.uk/content/report-criminal-justice-system-trinidad-and-tobago, 2003.

David F. Greenberg and Biko Agozino, Executions, imprisonment and crime in Trinidad and Tobago, British Journal of Criminology, Vol. 52, p. 113, 2012. Roger Hood and Florence Seemungal, A rare and arbitrary fate: Conviction for Murder, the Mandatory Death Penalty and the Reality of Homicide in Trinidad and Tobago: A Report to the Death Penalty Project, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/documents/rep-2006-rare-and-arbitrary-en.pdf, University of the West Indies Faculty of Law and University of Oxford Centre for Criminology, 2006.

Roger Hood, Florence Seemungal, Douglas Mendes, & Jeffrey Fagan, A Penalty Without Legitimacy The Mandatory Death Penalty In Trinidad and Tobogo, Death Penalty Project, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/assets/7/original/09.08.10_Trinidad_Publication.pdf?1259080068, Mar. 7, 2009.

Roger Hood and Florence Seemungal, Public Opinion on the Mandatory Death Penalty in Trinidad : A Summary of the Main Findings of a Survey : A Report for the Death Penalty Project and the Rights Advocacy Project of the University of the West Indies Faculty of Law, http://www.deathpenaltyproject.org/fulltexts/49/original/11.02.23_SUMMARY_EDITED_PO_REPORT_REVISED_23_FEB1.pdf?1298482044, Feb. 23, 2011.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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