News Releases

UWI places Human Rights at the centre of national development

For Release Upon Receipt - December 18, 2017

St. Augustine

The University of the West Indies’ Faculty of Law has launched a project for ‘Strengthening Trinidad and Tobago’s Human Rights Capacity through Innovative Legal Education Delivery’. The project, which received the support of the European Development Fund through the Ministry of Education, recognizes that there are vulnerable groups in Trinidad and Tobago whose fundamental human rights are threatened due to lack of capacity for legal services and advocacy by key partner and advocacy organisations.

Groups identified as primary beneficiaries for this capacity-building are: children; victims of gender-based violence and discrimination; differently-abled persons; refugees, migrants and persons deprived of liberty; and indigenous peoples.

The activities in this landmark project will bring together diverse sectors to close the gaps in legal education, especially its practical application. The project coordinators believe that this will result in the necessary support being provided to members of these vulnerable communities by civil society actors. They also hope that building the capacity and public interest culture of the private legal sector will further enhance the role and recognition of human rights as a fundamental pillar of sustainable development in Trinidad and Tobago.

Project Lead, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, in her remarks highlighted the rationale and linkages that can be leveraged by bringing these vulnerable groups together under the umbrella of the project. She offered that “human rights are cross-sectoral, and we need the cooperation of everyone to ensure that all our rights are protected.” Professor Antoine hopes the project will further enhance the role and recognition of human rights as a fundamental pillar of our country’s sustainable development trajectory. She emphasised that the Faculty of Law has a significant role to play in this endeavour.

Members of and advocates for these vulnerable communities were present at the project launch which took place on December 6 at the St. Augustine campus. Lending their support and sharing perspectives on how the project could sustainably impact the communities within which they work were: former Independent Senator Mrs. Diana Mahabir-Wyatt (children and victims of gender-based violence); Dr Natalie Dick (differently-abled persons); Chief Ricardo Hernandez of the Santa Rosa First Peoples (indigenous peoples) and Mr Ruben Barbado, Head of UN Refugee Office in Trinidad and Tobago (refugees, migrants and persons deprived of liberty).

The consensus among the speakers was that Trinidad and Tobago is currently in a position that demands a renewed emphasis on human rights and citizens’ understanding of their rights and how to protect them. Senator Mahabir-Wyatt and Dr Dick gave the audience a summary of the country’s recent history in relation to human rights, with both speakers noting that T&T has had a good history of supporting and ratifying international conventions and agreements on human rights, making us well-placed to continue along a path of development based on proper integration of human rights. Chief Hernandez brought a historical perspective referencing the recent drive by First Peoples around the world to reclaim their dignity after centuries of human rights violations. As the last of the invited speakers, Mr Barbado brought the global perspective on the need to address human rights issues, as reduced boundaries and growning numbers of displaced persons are resulting in increased incidents of refugee movements to countries like Trinidad and Tobago.

For more information on the Project ‘Strengthening Trinidad and Tobago’s Human Rights Capacity through Innovative Legal Education Delivery’, contact Ms. Keisha Garcia, Project Coordinator, at




Photo Caption: Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine, Dean of The UWI’s Faculty of Law at the launch for the project 'Strengthening T&T Human Rights Capacity through Innovative Legal Education Delivery’.  Photo: Atiba Cudjoe


About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a full-fledged, regional University with well over 40,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with four campuses in BarbadosJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the Open Campus. The UWI has faculty and students from more than 40 countries and collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. Website:


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of the “The”, hence The UWI.)