“No one truly knows a nation until one has been inside its jails” – Nelson Mandela
Under the aegis of UWI Faculty of Law’s (FOL) project entitled 'Strengthening Trinidad and Tobago’s Human Rights Capacity through Innovative Legal Education Delivery', which is funded by the European Development Fund through the Ministry of Education, the FOL’s International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) once again consolidated its work and took to the global stage to raise awareness about human rights infringements in Trinidad and Tobago – this time focused on the remand system.
On September 23rd 2019, a three-member team delivered a detailed, well-substantiated presentation on the matter of ‘Due Process and Remand Injustice in Trinidad and Tobago’ before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR’s) at the IACHR’s 173rdPeriod of Sessions in Washington D.C.
Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine (Dean of the UWI Faculty of Law and former Commissioner and President of the IACHR), along with two students from the FOL’s IHRC, Ms. Jenelle Corraspe and Ms. Shyra Wattley, spoke of issues related to the excessive and unjustifiable periods of incarceration on remand; the inadequate facilities and legal support for remand prisoners; the special considerations for female prisoners – especially those who are victims of domestic violence; and the need for bail and alternatives to remand. A short video clip featuring insights from the Commissioner of Prisons, Mr. Gerard Wilson, was also included in the presentation.
The IACHR Commissioners who were present expressed serious concern about the human rights violations being raised; and in light of the fact that the state was not represented at the Hearing to respond and discuss the matter, the IACHR made a strong recommendation for follow-up through a Working Meeting at its 174th Period of Sessions in Ecuador in November 2019.
This Hearing constitutes the second successful Hearing presented by the Faculty’s Clinic before the IACHR under the EDF project. See: IHRC’s Hearing in May 2019.
This Hearing also attracted significant media attention locally. Please see: