The EU/Faculty of Law, UWI Human Rights Project

The Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine (the Faculty) won its first competitive bid for a project grant entitled Growing Capacity for Elevating Trinidad and Tobago to International Human Rights Standards in 2015. The Project will focus on three specific areas of human rights – the Death Penalty, LGBT rights and Gender and is for a duration of 24 months.

The Faculty has an ongoing commitment to ensure that its law programme responds dynamically and appropriately to the vibrant commercial, multi-ethnic and diverse community of its host country, Trinidad and Tobago and the wider region, engaging innovatively and directly in nation-building and democratic governance, while at the same time building socially conscious legal practitioners. Outreach and continuing legal education are important goals of our strategic plan. A project which aims to strengthen human rights furthers the Faculty’s mandate.

The overall objective of the EU FOL Human Rights project is to strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s institutional capacity for elevating the standard and execution of human rights protection to established international human rights expectations, based on the premise that the country’s legal and social infrastructure with regard to the effective protection of human rights has significant deficiencies. Strategically addressing these needs for sustained transformation requires widespread capacity building, research and awareness type interventions which catalyse heightened public engagement for ongoing rights reform. Promoting the abolition of the death penalty and enhancing respect for the rights of the LGBTI community, women and girls are important steps in this regard.

The project's activities are varied, including developmental training for NGO’s and other stakeholders, public discussions, production and publication of research materials and producing visibility materials, such as television advertisements, all of which will help to fuel law reform and policy change. The project’s work will also assist the faculty in its collateral goal of producing shadow reports on such issues and assisting Parliament in reviewing proposed and existing legislation. The Faculty also envisages the project as a vehicle for engaging in collaborative efforts, both with varied stakeholders, such as NGO's, public authorities, religious organisations, the private sector and important policy makers such as the Parliament. The project also dovetails with the Faculty’s newly instituted International Human Rights Clinic.

The Faculty is fortunate to have several lecturers with established expertise on and commitment to, the subject of human rights, from the perspectives of both academia and advocacy. The project is managed by the Administrative Officer, Mrs. Alicia Broomes-Julien and the Project Leader is Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine.

We believe that the involvement of the Faculty as neutral, well researched, qualified academic analysts can support, rather than contradict, in meaningful ways, the social and legal developmental goals and aspirations of policy makers in Trinidad and Tobago.

Ensuring Public Participation in Project Activities

An important action of the project is Public Awareness events. These include a series of Public Lecture Discussion Panels, press conferences, short film advertisements, the institution of a Human Rights Open Day and the publication of a Book on Death Penalty.

Main Activities Nature of Activities
Hosting of Press Conference – EU/FOL Symposium Press/ Public awareness event and the official Launch of the Project held in December 2015
Panel Discussion on Gender Violence Lecture series/panel discussion brought awareness to the public and produced further advancements in equal opportunities and substantial law reform to improve the status of women in Trinidad and Tobago. The Panel was held in March 2016
LGBTI Training Workshop Workshop focussed on specific training of those who would assist in legitimising LGBTI policy changes, thereby assisting the state in advancing human rights in this area. The action identified practical legal provisions that can be incorporated into existing law
Public Service Advertisements Two short advertisements/films were produced for the project by the Film Unit, FHE on the topics of Death Penalty and LGBTI rights
Parliamentary Workshop on Death Penalty A special training session for the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago was held as an advocacy tool to sensitise Parliament on recent jurisprudential developments and empirical evidence on the death penalty and to promote law reform in this area according to human rights norms.

Planned Activities for 2017

  • LGBTI Lecture/Panel Discussion
  • Lecture/Panel Discussion on Death Penalty
  • Gender Training Workshop
  • Production and publication of Book on Death Penalty