About the Project
Through this project, the UWI, St. Augustine, through its Faculty of Law International Human Rights Clinic (FOL IHRC) aims to deepen the knowledge base and strengthen partnerships that will positively impact on human rights issues in Trinidad and Tobago. This result is to be achieved through the implementation of an innovative clinical legal education model that forges a symbiotic partnership among academia, the private legal sector and civil society organizations, inclusive of the public sector in specific interventions. A collateral objective is to strengthen the institutional capacity and knowledge dissemination impact of the FOL IHRC, and therefore on Trinidad and Tobago. The project is funded by the Ministry of Education, through the European Development Fund.
Four interrelated aspects drive this educational model:
- The International Human Rights Clinic Course;
- Train the Trainer Workshops for the private legal sector, civil society and government;
- Implementation of a legal advocacy strategy; and
- A public awareness and outreach campaign.
These activities bring together diverse sectors that will work together to close the gaps in legal education, namely practical and experiential education, provide the necessary support to marginalized communities by
facilitating effective resource mobilization by civil society actors, and building the capacity and public interest culture of the private legal sector.
The Project and its Partners
This project envisions an innovative clinical educational model through which the FOL IHRC maximizes the partnerships that exist between the FOL IHRC and the legal profession and civil society organizations. Every activity aims to maximize the effect that each partner will have in cooperation and collaboration with the others, ensuring effective partnerships, knowledge transfer, advocacy and efficacy for individual redress. Each partner will be required to share information and thereby contribute to the efficacy of the model, as well as benefit from the outcome. Public sector partners will benefit from their participation in the specific activities of the model, as well as in maintaining their availability to communicate and collaborate with the FOL, UWI post the implementation period.
Target Thematic Issues
- Child Rights: There is a need for a coherent human rights approach to children’s issues in Trinidad and Tobago that informs the implementation of the legislative framework to address the “best interest of the child” to impact the whole host of rights due to children.
Additionally, a rights-based framework requires reframing the analysis of urban violence as a crisis with significant impact on developing bodies and minds, and integrating cutting-edge research on complex trauma and resilience, as well as brain development and learning outcomes, to ensure that the implementation of legal standards protects and promotes all the rights of children
- Gender-Based Violence and Discrimination: While there has been a sustained national dialogue on the issue of gender in the last 20 years, troubling issues remain which demonstrate the need for active interventions to stimulate further and more meaningful progress. There are, for example, alarming instances of gender-based violence, issues of trafficking and sexual exploitation, a deficit in relation to sexual reproductive rights and no specific laws against sexual harassment. Further, existing laws are poorly enforced and there are few cases on gender discrimination despite its continued existence. Finally, there is a dearth in gender-sensitization policies and guidelines or sustained awareness campaigns and training aimed at addressing root causes of gender- based violence in the widest sense of the term, namely persistent prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.
- Refugees, Migrants and Persons Deprived of Liberty: Currently, however, there are few legal professionals that have the substantive knowledge of international human rights and refugee law to provide competent representation. However, such expertise resides in the FOL IHRC and the Living Waters Community.
While the FOL IHRC has the value-added of providing the theoretical knowledge of substantive international law and experience in drafting of legal analysis, LWC brings its contact with the target population, engagement with government stakeholders, and knowledge and experience with protection frameworks. Meanwhile, the private legal sector has the skills, knowledge and license to present cases for individual redress, with expertise in domestic procedures. Through this three-sector partnership, the project will support the new responsibility of the GORTT to advance its priorities in migration management while addressing refugee and migrant rights.
- Rights of Persons Living with Disabilities: Trinidad and Tobago is at a crucial juncture on the path towards full implementation of the United Nations Convention on Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The CRPD was ratified by the Government on June 15, 2016. The first State Report to the Committee on Persons with Disabilities is due to be submitted in June 2017. The Faculty of Law is committed to contributing and supporting strategic national efforts on the CRPD. Moving forward, the Faculty intends to build on this established network by providing litigation support, continued legal advice and research on the CPRD. There is a critical need for input from legal specialists in the field of disability rights as we must effect a paradigm shift away from our current approach which is based on the charity and medical model of disability.