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Trinidad and Tobago - Universal Periodic Review - Death Penalty - March 2021

Date: March 25, 2021
Country: Trinidad and Tobago
Type: Intl Mechanism Submission
Issues: Death Penalty, Detention, Disability Rights, Due Process and Fair Trial, International Advocacy, Torture
Mechanism: Universal Periodic Review
Report Type: Stakeholder Report
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The Advocates for Human Rights, together with The World Coalition Against the Death Penalty and The Greater Caribbean for Life submitted a stakeholder report relating to the death penalty in Trinidad and Tobago for the 39th session of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review. 

Trinidad and Tobago has not abolished the death penalty nor has it ratified the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and it continues to impose new death sentencesTrinidad and Tobago is the only country in the Americas region to retain the mandatory death penalty for murder, despite the Judicial Committee for the Privy Council ruling it as unconstitutional and in violation of international standards that prohibit barring judges from exercising discretion in sentencing. Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, and its prison system is reported to have harsh and unhealthy detention conditions, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a high backlog in criminal cases, and there has been little evidence of government efforts to ensure applicable due process safeguards. 

The authors of the report suggest the following recommendations for Trinidad and Tobago: 

  • Abolish the mandatory death sentence for murder and replace it with an alternative sentencing framework that is fair, proportionate, and in compliance with international human rights standards. 

  • Impose a formal moratorium on the death penalty effective immediately. 

  • Ratify, without reservations, the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 

  • Take concrete steps toward developing the domestic framework necessary to enable ratification and implementation of the Convention against Torture. 

  • Create an independent authority to conduct impartial investigations of allegations of torture, and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Prioritize allegations raised by individuals sentenced to death. 

  • Provide guidance and resources to all detention facilities to ensure the protection of the health and safety of all detained persons, staff, and visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

  • Create a streamlined process to facilitate the immediate release of any person who has been held in pretrial detention for a term longer than the maximum sentence for the crimes with which they have been charged.