Delegation of the European Union to Trinidad and Tobago

Addressing Human Rights Abuses of Remand Prisoners with Special Emphasis on Domestic Violence Murder Cases

30/03/2020 - 13:29
Democracy and Human Rights

Duration: 30 months (to June 2022)

EU Contribution: EUR 184,211.00

Location: Funded under the EIDHR and managed by the EU Delegation to Trinidad and Tobago

Overview:

The project, to be implemented by The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine, addresses the human rights challenge of unduly lengthy detainment of individuals on remand without trial – often for more than a decade.  The project also addresses the issues faced by female remand detainees; in particular those charged with murder arising from domestic violence and where said abuse was not taken into account in their charges.   Such a situation points to significant gender inequalities in the criminal justice system.

Additionally, given that there is an increase in youth impacted by the criminal justice system, youth and children’s rights also present cross-cutting issues. An additional dimension to the remand problem is the detention of many Venezuelan migrants. Remand prisoners are not only deprived of liberty where the right to a fair trial, constitutionally enshrined, is compromised, but while in prison, they are subject to the harshest of conditions, including violations of their economic, social and cultural rights, such as rights to health care and education.
Accordingly, the IHRC plans to lead a number of inter-related activities aimed at: (1) addressing these issues through the court to provide a remedy for such victims of human rights abuses; and (2) creating a more human rights friendly environment and legal infrastructure in the wider society that will penetrate the penal / prison system, including its gender dimensions.

Overall Objective: To bring about positive change to the law, legal policy and prosecution practice in prison remand conditions in Trinidad and Tobago, bringing them in line with international human rights standards, especially targeting female murder accused who were victims of domestic violence.

Specific Objectives:

  • To undertake strategic litigation, research and data collection to address human rights abuses inherent in the remand system, including broader issues of gender inequities which underlie it
  • To build a network of CSOs that can advocate effectively for and support a humane, justice-centred enabling environment for remand prisoners and undertake direction interventions to empower remandees; and
  • To marshal public opinion, ad influence, targeted stakeholders and the state toward remand reform through informed, solution based interventions and advocacy

Activities:

  • A focused litigation and research strategy, which includes the Faculty of Law, UWI in collaboration with private attorneys to prepare and present a test case on constitutional and human rights violations in the remand system  before the courts; as well as hearings on pertinent legal issues and request for precautionary measures before international tribunals such as the IACHR
  • A collective civil society voice and programming on prison reform and humane remand conditions and support, through the facilitation of peer to peer learning, systematic cross-sectoral collaboration among CSOs and direct interventions with remandees
  • Strategic communication and public advocacy on the key subject areas including a documentary of remand injustice, a public lecture series, a media blitz and material and the institution of a human rights for remand prisoners open day.

Outcomes:

The primary actions of the project including public awareness, training, rehabilitation, law reform, data collection, research, media and documentary outputs, in addition to litigation, will be realised. Other important objectives, such as capacity building for CSOs, both in terms of substantive areas as well as institutional strengthening and deepening of meaningful partnerships, will be achieved. Above all, the overall goal of a nation more committed to human rights norms, key to development, will be facilitated.

Beneficiary:

The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies (UWI), St. Augustine (https://sta.uwi.edu/law/articles/InternationalHumanRightsClinic.php )

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