A compilation of extracts featuring child-rights issues from the reports submitted to the second Universal Periodic Review. There are extracts from the 'National Report', the 'Compilation of UN Information' and the 'Summary of Stakeholder's Information'. Also included is the final report and the list of accepted and rejected recommendations.
Trinidad and Tobago - Twenty Fifth Session - 2016
II. Developments since previous Universal Periodic Review
6. In 2011, Trinidad and Tobago accepted the recommendation to enact human trafficking legislation to improve prosecution of trafficking offenders and protections for victims of forced labour and sex trafficking. At the time of the review, the Trafficking in Persons Act, 2011 was passed in the Parliament but not yet proclaimed to give effect to its provisions. The proclamation was delayed so as to allow the infrastructural framework as established within the legislation to be put in place. On the 2 January 2013, the Trafficking in Persons Act, 2011 came into force by proclamation. The legislation has been described as comprehensive, adopting a victim centred approach and placing particular attention on women and children as in accordance with the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The object of the Act is to prescribe measures to prevent and combat trafficking in persons including children, by:
(a) protecting and assisting victims of trafficking;
(b) facilitating the efficient investigation of cases of trafficking in persons;
(c) facilitating the prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in trafficking in persons; and
(d) promoting cooperation between Trinidad and Tobago and other States in order to prevent and suppress trafficking in persons and to punish offenders.
10. In February 2015, Trinidad and Tobago was pleased to submit to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, its Combined Fourth to Seventh Periodic Reports. The submission of this combined report constituted a significant achievement for the Government as it remained an outstanding national report for several years. Despite the overdue status, the Ministry of the Attorney General in collaboration with the former Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development and other key stakeholders remained committed to completing the national report as part of its responsibility to map the progression and the challenges faced in implementing the obligations of CEDAW and to contribute to the improvement in the human rights situation of women. Trinidad and Tobago is due to be reviewed by the Committee in July 2016.
12. Trinidad and Tobago received various recommendations during its initial review concerning the full implementation of the Children’s Authority and the proclamation of the Children Act, 2012.
13. On 18 May 2015, the Children Act, 2012 was proclaimed which resulted in the immediate operationalization of the Children’s Authority. The Children Act, 2012 along with other key pieces of legislation and the Children’s Authority represent an overhaul of the former child protection system to a new regime. The Children Act, 2012, repealed and replaced the Children Act, 1925. The new legislation is wide ranging in its scope and deals with, inter alia, sexual conduct against children, cruelty, juvenile justice, corporal punishment, compulsory school age, evidence and procedures in relation to children in criminal proceedings, Children’s Attorneys and the employment of children. The Children’s Authority which was established by the Children’s Authority Act, 2000 serves as the hub of the new national child protection system and performs several key functions geared towards safeguarding and improving the lives of children in Trinidad and Tobago. The Children’s Authority receives and investigates reports of the mistreatment of children and, in order to deliver the most effective service, has established a 24-hour Helpline where reports can be made anonymously. It has also established an Emergency Response Team which is available to investigate reports of the mistreatment of children on a 24-hour basis.
III. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
A. International covenant on civil and political rights
2. Right to life, right to liberty and security of the person
19. In recognition of the need to address crime and violence in the society, the Ministry of National Security has been involved in a number of programmes, which seek to, inter alia: reduce victimization; reduce risk and build youth resilience; control street gangs and organised crime; reform the justice system; and build capacity for evidence based policy development. The Citizen Security Programme is one such initiative of the Ministry of National Security geared towards reducing crime and violence and is partially financed through a loan facility from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). Since the establishment of the programme, twenty-two (22) high needs pilot communities were identified for implementation. This has subsequently been expanded to include eight (8) additional communities. The specific objectives of the Programme are:
• the reduction of the levels of homicides, robberies and assaults in partner communities;
• an increase in the perception of safety in partner communities;
• the reduction of injuries related to firearms, child abuse, domestic violence and youth violence; and
• an increase in the partner communities’ collective ability to prevent violence.
3. Access to justice
23. As a nation that continues to safeguard its democracy, the administration of justice is fundamental to such democratic governance. In this regard, three separate pieces of legislation are currently applicable in Trinidad and Tobago in relation to the use of preliminary enquiries in the administration of justice. The Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act, 2011 repeals the Indictable Offences (Preliminary Enquiry) Act, 1917. However, the Indictable Offences (Preliminary Enquiry) Act, 1917 shall continue to apply to proceedings which were instituted prior to the coming into force of the 2011 Act where parties have agreed to this. As a result of the revisions to the operationality of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011, the Indictable Offences (Committal Proceedings) Act, 2014 was passed by Parliament for the elimination of preliminary enquiries and for the committal of accused persons based on written statements submitted by the prosecution to the enquiring Magistrate. The enactment of this piece of legislation would allow for the reduction in the length of time between the laying of a charge and the trial in the High Court. The Legal Aid and Advice (Amendment) Act, 2012 gives juvenile persons and persons arrested for indictable offences access to legal aid regardless of the time of their arrest due to the introduction of a 24 hour Duty Counsel Scheme. The Administration of Justice (Electronic Monitoring) Act, 2012 was assented to by the President and is awaiting proclamation. This Act establishes an Electronic Monitoring Unit which aims to supervise offenders who are serving their sentences in communities across Trinidad and Tobago. It is expected that the introduction of electronic monitoring will relieve prison overcrowding while offering effective supervision outside of correctional institutions.
26. In the last cycle, Trinidad and Tobago accepted the recommendation to establish a modern Juvenile Justice System to consolidate the protection of the rights of children. The Judiciary has recognised the need for juvenile justice reform and the importance of engaging in direct initiatives that are rehabilitative and restorative so as to reduce recidivism among young offenders. In this regard, the Judiciary has undertaken a project in collaboration with USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to establish a Juvenile Court in Trinidad and Tobago. The project will establish two juvenile and youth courts under the stewardship of trained Judicial Officers who will serve to develop civic responsibility, youth leadership and the use of positive peer pressure to encourage young people accused of committing minor offences to take responsibility for their behaviour in keeping with a more rehabilitative and less punitive approach. The project will develop court-annexed diversion programmes through coordination and referral mechanisms in cooperation with the Children’s Authority, other State agencies and non-governmental organisations.3
27. Drug Treatment Courts were launched in 2012 as a means of supervising cases of drug offenders who agree to participate in treatment for their substance abuse. The Drug Treatment Court was launched as a Pilot to inform legislation for wider implementation in selected locales throughout Trinidad and Tobago for adults and juvenile target groups. In 2015, the Court celebrated its second group of graduates from the programme.
2. Right to enjoy the highest standard of physical and mental health
38. In addition to the legislative framework, the public health sector has benefited significantly from the commissioning of new health facilities, which would assist in meeting the high demand for health services. These new facilities include the San Fernando Teaching Hospital which was commissioned in January 2014 and caters to maternal and child health among various other services. The Carenage Health Centre, a primary healthcare facility which will serve the needs of approximately 50,000 people in the north- western peninsula of Trinidad was opened in August 2015 and includes services such as dental, Point of Care testing, pharmaceutical and wellness. The Scarborough General Hospital in Tobago was commissioned on a phased basis in 2012 and introduced the “e- health card”, a new technology in patient health care service.
39. The Ministry of Health continues to engage in several new initiatives to improve and advance its health care services. One of the most successful programmes of the Ministry of Health in 2014 is the External-Patient Programme which provides services such as MRI, cataract surgery, CT Scans, prosthetics and orthopaedics, knee and hip replacement, dialysis and angiograms. Also in 2014, the Ministry of Health and the People’s Republic of China signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will see 10 senior Chinese health professionals brought to Trinidad and Tobago to assist in enhancing the delivery of health care services in tertiary health care facilities. Additionally, the Ministry of Health has engaged with the United Nations Development Programme to procure 30 doctors from various countries under the United Nations Volunteer Programme. These doctors have been assigned to primary health care facilities across Trinidad and Tobago for 3 years and will enhance the delivery of health care services. Other initiatives during the period of Review include the “Health For All: Because Everyone Matters – A Love Yourself Initiative” which is a project to provide health screening for children living in vulnerable communities; the initiation of an Organ Donation and Transplant Network for Trinidad and Tobago; and the launch of a National Mental Health Awareness Campaign.
4. Right to education
43. Education has always been at the forefront of the Government’s investment in sustainable development. In 2015, Trinidad and Tobago achieved Universal Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE), which is coupled with the already existing Universal Primary and Universal Secondary education, as well as Universal Tertiary education up to the undergraduate level. Currently there are 208 operational ECCE Centres with 12 new ECCE Centres awaiting staff to be opened, bringing the total to 222 public ECCE Centres.
44. As part of the focus on education, Trinidad and Tobago has sought to infuse Information Technology services into the education infrastructure as it recognises the need for students and teachers to learn and interact with modern technologies in the classroom. In 2010, the Government introduced an initiative to provide all students entering secondary school with a laptop. Since then, over 95,000 laptops have been provided to students as well as over 5,000 laptops to teachers, principals and school supervisors. Thousands of teachers have been trained in Information Communication Technology (ICT) and infusion of ICT into the curriculum. All secondary schools as well as over 300 primary schools have been equipped with computer labs.
45. In addition to these innovations, the Government continues to provide social support services to students such as the provision of lunch and breakfast through the school feeding programme, free transportation service for students in school uniform, provision of main textbooks and a uniform grant.
46. Further to these policy measures, there have also been important legislative changes that promote the right to education. With the proclamation of the Children Act, 2012, the age of compulsory schooling has increased from 6–12 to 5–16 years. The abolition of corporal punishment in schools is now enacted into law by section 4 of the Children Act, 2012.
5. Rights of persons with disabilities
51. The right of children with disabilities, to access education has also been recognised and is supported by the Special Education Unit of the Student Support Services Division of the Ministry of Education. The role of the Special Education Unit includes:
• servicing special education needs of students diagnosed with a disability;
• providing initial diagnostic assessment for students suspected of having a disability or a special education need;
• provision of alternative intervention strategies to teachers;
• identifying and referring students for specialised assessment and therapeutic services where necessary; and
• sensitizing regular education teachers to respond to students’ identified special education needs.
52. The Minitry of Social Development and Family Services Continues to provide social services for persons with disabilities such as a free bus service, Disability Assistance Grants, Special Child Grants, Medical Aids and Equipment Grants, as well as dietary, housing and clothing grants.
8. Delivery of social services
66. The Baby Care Assistance Initiative was introduced by the Government in 2015. This programme provides financial assistance for one year, for any child born to under- privileged parents during the course of the fiscal year 2014/2015. This initiative provides parents and legal guardians with financial assistance to purchase food and non-food items essential to an infant’s wellbeing during its first year of life. The programme also seeks to provide the recipients with additional critical services relevant to the development of the family, such as parenting workshops, family planning, financial literacy sessions and opportunities for employment and education. The Empowerment Component of the initiative was launched in July 2015.
D. Convention on the Rights of the Child
72. The protection of the rights of children has been foremost in the Government’s legislative agenda. On 18 May 2015, the President proclaimed:
• The Children Act, 2012;
• The Children’s Authority Act, 2000;;
• The Children’s Authority Regulations 2014;;
• The Children’s Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act, 2000;;
• The Foster Care Regulations, 2014;
• The Children’s Community Residences Regulations 2014;
• The Adoption of Children Act, 2000; and
• The Adoption of Children Regulations 2015.
73. The above pieces of legislation form part of an entire children’s package of legislation and framework for the protection of children.
74. The Children Act, 2012 seeks to ensure increased protection of children against sexual abuse through the introduction of a wider and more comprehensive range of offences pertaining to various forms of child sexual abuse including sexual penetration, sexual touching, sexual grooming, child prostitution (including paying for the sexual services of a child) and child pornography. Other offences include female genital mutilation and cruelty to children. In addition to offences committed against children, the Act also seeks to modernise the juvenile justice system. It may allow for the assessment of child offenders who are released on bail, to be conducted by the Children’s Authority. It also introduces modern principles of sentencing for child offenders including investigations and reports by experts such as child psychologists and child psychiatrists; sentencing options that emphasize care and rehabilitation such as deeming a child offender in need of care and protection thereby triggering the comprehensive care and protection jurisdiction of the Children’s Authority (under the Children’s Authority Act, 2000); supervision orders; and orders for counselling or any other rehabilitative intervention or treatment. The Act also recognises the need for independent representation of a child in either criminal or civil proceedings by establishing an office of Children’s Attorneys to represent and safeguard the interest of a child and perform such other functions as the Court may think necessary.
75. The Children’s Authority Act, 2000 confers on the Children’s Authority powers of investigation with respect to, inter alia, the ill-treatment, abandonment and neglect of children; removal of a child from his home in circumstances where that child is in imminent danger; receiving children into care; regulating community residences and nurseries; and managing a foster care system. The proclamation of the Act in 2015 brought the Children’s Authority into full operation.
76. The Children’s Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act, 2000 establishes the framework for the licensing and regulation of community residences and nurseries by the Children’s Authority and for the establishment of a system of foster care managed by the Authority.
77. The Adoption of Children Act, 2000 allows for the adoption system to be managed by the Children’s Authority and markedly introduces international adoptions.
78. Together with its legislative strategies, the Government has also engaged in the development of the National Strategic Plan for Child Development 2012-2016 (NSP) which serves as the blueprint for improving the situation of children in Trinidad and Tobago. It outlines comprehensive strategies for achieving its five stated goals which are as follows:
• to provide a secure and nurturing environment for all children;
• to provide opportunities beyond academics for all children;
• to provide healthy lives;
• to provide specialised services for the wellbeing of each child; and
• to develop comprehensive, coherent and harmonised initiatives to promote, protect and respect child rights.
79. An Advisory Council was established in Januery 2014 to monitor the implementation of the Plan. A review of national policies and legislation to ensure conformity with regional and international agreements was completed. Areas for legal reform identified in the report included the medical consent of minors; social security for children with disabilities; discrimination on the basis of age, disability and HIV; the ages of marriage in Trinidad and Tobago; child maintenance; and the age of criminal responsibility.
80. The Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development has continued to work to promote international labour standards, including those related to child labour. In this regard, the Labour Inspectorate of the Ministry continued to monitor for breaches of the law relating to the minimum age for employment and child trafficking. Given the increase in migration flows, labour inspectors have participated in workshops on forced labour and human trafficking which have included issues relating to child trafficking and the commercial exploitation of children. Labour inspectors are trained to identify and investigate cases of child labour as well as identify and report on indicators relating to possible cases of human trafficking and forced labour involving children for referral to the Counter-Trafficking Unit of the Ministry of National Security.
84. In December 2014, the Government agreed to partner with the Network of Non- Governmental Organisations of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women to implement the initiative entitled, “Becoming a Woman: Creating Safe Spaces for At Risk Girls and Young Women in Trinidad and Tobago”. This outreach programme is aimed at reducing the influence of social norms that perpetuate their social and economic exclusion from the society.
86. Other initiatives in relation to the eradication of violence against women include the review of the Domestic Violence Act, 1999 which was conducted in 2014–2015 with a view to introducing reforms for the greater protection of victims of domestic violence; the construction of 6 new safe house facilities for victims of domestic violence to be completed in 2015; and the implementation of Women City Centres which will provide integrated services for women relating to violence against women, economic autonomy, sexual and reproductive health, community education and child care.
IV. Achievements and best practices
88. Child Protection Units
• The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service has partnered successfully with the Children’s Authority to establish a Child Protection Unit in 5 of the 9 police geographical divisions.
89. Universal Early Childhood Care and Education
• In 2015, the Government announced its achievement of Universal Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE). At present, there are 208 operational ECCE Centres across Trinidad and Tobago.
VI. Key national priorities, initiatives and commitments
99. The policy of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for the period of the Second Cycle of UPR is guided by its 2015 manifesto developed in accordance with efforts towards achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The priorities are as follows:
Free education at all levels and increasing the level of accessibility to it.
Promoting and encouraging the participation of the youth in all aspects of sustainable development of Trinidad and Tobago. The Government is committed to fostering a greater understanding of the needs of young people and providing guidelines for youth development.
I. Background and framework
C. Institutional and human rights infrastructure and policy measures
3. The country team recommended that the Government strengthen all plans and policies to eradicate violence against women, taking into account factors that increased inequality and discrimination. It also recommended that the Government engage in public education initiatives to improve critical understanding of gender-based violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape and child sexual abuse, and to improve access to redress and support services.
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
A. Equality and non-discrimination
6. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also requested information on measures taken to develop a comprehensive policy to change social and cultural patterns that led to stereotyping and reinforcement of the traditional roles of women and men within the family and society, targeting, in particular, gender socialization practices in the family and at school, as well as negative media messaging and portrayals of women.
B. Right to life, liberty and security of person
12. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) noted that corporal punishment of children was lawful in public and private schools under section 22 of the Children Act. Corporal punishment was prohibited in the 2000 Children (Amendment) Act, but that Act had not come into force. The 1996 Education Act made no reference to corporal punishment. The 2009 National School Code of Conduct of the Ministry of Education stated that corporal punishment should not be used.17 UNESCO recommended that Trinidad and Tobago be encouraged to take steps to define corporal punishment in order to reduce the negative impact it could have on children’s upbringing.
13. The country team recalled that the 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report of the Department of State of the United States of America indicated that Trinidad and Tobago was a destination, transit and possible source country for adults and children who were subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Trinidad and Tobago had not fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking. In January 2013, Trinidad and Tobago had adopted the 2011 Trafficking in Persons Act, which was intended to increase the number of perpetrators of trafficking who were prosecuted and to strengthen protection for victims of forced labour and sex trafficking. Human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago was particularly relevant to the sex industry. The country team recommended that Trinidad and Tobago introduce human trafficking modules into law enforcement training.
14. UNHCR expressed concern about trafficking in persons, particularly women and children, since a coordinated approach to prevent trafficking and protect victims of trafficking had not been fully developed in the region. UNHCR noted that Trinidad and Tobago could further improve its efforts to address human trafficking by strengthening procedures for identifying victims of trafficking and by providing them with the opportunity to apply for asylum, as well as developing appropriate care arrangements. UNHCR recommended that the Government of Trinidad and Tobago take measures to ensure the early identification of persons in need of international protection, including persons in detention, and facilitate their access to asylum procedures through further training and awareness-raising of immigration officers. It also recommended that the Government strengthen efforts to ensure that victims of trafficking were provided with an opportunity to seek asylum and enjoy the corresponding rights and services.
C. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
15. The country team considered that the monitoring procedures for children placed in institutions under the authority of the State, such as juvenile detention centres and orphanages, and those living in foster care and adoption living arrangements, were inadequate. The new Children’s Authority was charged with establishing standards for all child institutions and with monitoring their compliance. The country team noted that the judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme and the National Centre for State Courts, had launched the Juvenile Court Project, which aimed to strengthen the capacity of the judiciary to deal with juvenile justice matters using a rehabilitative and less retributive approach. The country team recommended that Trinidad and Tobago establish protocols for the periodic review of the treatment and situation of children who had been placed by the authorities, for the purpose of care, protection or treatment of their health, in State and/or private facilities.
D. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
18. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women acknowledged that the 1923 Marriage Act, the 1945 Hindu Marriage Act, the 1961 Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act and the 1999 Orisa Marriage Act allowed for girls to be married at the ages of 12, 14 and 16 years respectively, hence legitimizing child marriage. The country team recommended that the Government reconcile those legislative instruments so that the minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys was brought into line with the definition of a child in CRC.
19. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women requested data on trafficking in persons, disaggregated by age, sex and origin of victim. It asked whether a study had been carried out to investigate the extent and root causes of trafficking in persons and exploitation of prostitution, particularly of women and girls. Given that the counter- trafficking unit had been established to, among other things, investigate cases, screen, identify, protect and assist victims, and raise public awareness about such crimes, the Committee requested information on the number of cases that had been investigated, the number of perpetrators prosecuted and the nature of the sanctions imposed on perpetrators of trafficking in persons and in women and girls in particular. The Committee asked for an update on efforts to adopt and implement a gender-responsive national action plan on child labour in order to address the problem of internal trafficking of children, particularly girls, for engagement in agricultural and other forms of work.
20. The country team noted that in Trinidad and Tobago, marriage of girls as young as 12 and boys as young as 14 was permitted. The Children Act provided exemptions from criminalization for sexual offences against minors by the minor’s spouse. While recent legislation decriminalized non-coercive sexual relations between minors who were close in age in non-familiar or custodial relationships, it explicitly withheld the decriminalization provision in the case of children of the same sex. That made non-coercive sexual activity between minors of the same sex subject to life imprisonment, regardless of their ages.
G. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living
25. The country team stressed that, according to the Household and Budgetary Survey for 2011, the poverty level stood at 21.8 per cent. Many women who had little access to economic resources perceived the public assistance programme as offering an alternative pathway for child support and some measure of economic stability. The Government had conducted a population situation analysis, which had identified those who were the most vulnerable in society, including people living in poverty. Based on the analysis, Cabinet had approved a population policy and a population council had been proposed, which would be responsible for monitoring population data to address inequalities in society.34
H. Right to health
26. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women requested information on measures being taken to address the high rate of HIV infection among women between 15 and 24 years of age, as reportedly 50 per cent of new HIV cases occurred in women and girls.
27. The country team highlighted the fact that coordination relating to HIV/AIDS had declined and Trinidad and Tobago was the only Caribbean country to have experienced an increase in HIV/AIDS over the past four years. The country team recommended that the Government revise or implement policies and protocols governing provision of reproductive health services to young persons, including young women, to ensure provision of contraceptive and other sexual and reproductive health services. The policies and protocols should be accompanied by educational programmes for health-care providers.
28. The country team noted that more than 2,500 teenage pregnancies were reported annually in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the former Minister of Health, most of the teenagers become pregnant from men who were between 25 and 40 years of age and some mothers were younger than 12.37 The country team recommended that Trinidad and Tobago abolish child marriage and implement comprehensive sex education in schools that was age appropriate, gender responsive and life-skills based, with a view to addressing teenage pregnancy and positive relationships between young women and men of school age. Access to sexual and reproductive health education and services should also be provided for young people in an attempt to avoid early pregnancy.
I. Right to education
30. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women asked whether there was a clear policy allowing for the re-entry of teenage mothers into formal education and, if so, the measures in place to enforce such provisions. The Committee requested an update on progress made in developing an age-appropriate education programme on sexual and reproductive health and rights for all levels of education. It also requested data on the dropout rates of girls owing to pregnancy and on indirect costs of education that might impede women’s and girls’ access to education, in particular in female-headed households.
32. UNESCO noted that, as well as enshrining the right to compulsory, free education for all children between the ages of 6 and 12 in public schools, the 1966 Education Act stated that schools could provide infant or nursery education for children below 5 years of age. In fact, schooling began for many children around age 3, but mainly in early childhood care and education establishments. At the other end of the compulsory age range, the reality was that free schooling continued for most of the secondary school population until the age of 15. It was only owing to a shortfall in the number of secondary school places that compulsory, formal, free education came to an end for some students at age 12. Free education meant that students did not pay tuition fees, but they did pay for books, school uniforms and school transport.42 However, in order to give all students the same opportunity to learn in an appropriate environment, the Government provided students from lower income families with school meals, books and transportation, through existing social programmes.
33. UNESCO noted that the Ministry of Education had developed new curriculum documents for primary education and the 2011-2015 Education Sector Strategic Plan. The plan reflected the national education development agenda as well as the commitments to regional and international prerogatives in the achievement of Education for All and the Millennium Development Goals. That was significant as it enabled the country to align itself with its regional and global neighbours in the pursuit of the common goal of equitable, quality education for all. UNESCO recommended that Trinidad and Tobago be encouraged to continue the implementation of new curricula at all levels, including extensive programmes on human rights education, notably in sustainable development, gender equality and health.45 It also recommended that Trinidad and Tobago be encouraged to continue focusing policies on teacher training so as to improve the efficiency of the new curricula.
34. UNESCO highlighted the fact that policies addressing gender disparity at the expense of boys remained scarce and often focused on boys’ poor achievement and disengagement from schooling. Since 2000, countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, had introduced several stand-alone policies and interventions, including strategies to mainstream technical and vocational subjects into the curriculum, school and community-based programmes to tackle youth crime and violence, and mentoring initiatives.
J. Persons with disabilities
35. The country team stressed that persons with disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago faced discrimination and denial of opportunities, such as architectural barriers, employers’ reluctance to make necessary accommodations that would enable otherwise qualified persons with disabilities to work, an absence of support services to assist children with disabilities, low expectations of the abilities of persons with disabilities, and condescending attitudes and disrespect. It recommended that Trinidad and Tobago review and revise domestic legislation and policies to reflect the provisions and principles of CRPD, and finalize and fully implement the updated National Policy on Persons with Disabilities.
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
1. Equality and non-discrimination
6. On LGBT rights, SOGIE 1 recommended that the Government develop and implement from 2016 onward a national campaign of human rights and anti-discrimination education in the national media, in schools and in local communities, that explicitly includes sexual and gender diversity and NGOs and representatives from LGBTI communities7. It also recommended that the Government and Opposition jointly pass legislation to amend the Constitution’s Bill of Rights (currently Section 4) to protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender8; and that the Government introduce and bring to a debate in Parliament a legislative amendment to the Equal Opportunity Act to add sexual orientation, age and HIV to be protected under Section 39. Finally, it recommended the Ministry of Labour & Small Enterprise Development to bring to Cabinet for adoption a simple policy statement on non-discrimination in public employment, including all uniformed services, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
7. Squeaky Wheels (SW) noted that Persons with Disabilities in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) remain one of the most marginalized, voiceless groups whose fundamental inalienable rights are often infringed by the absence of appropriated systems that facilitate their inclusion in society. This marginalization by the wider society has lead persons with disability to being treated as second class citizens in TT. It also noted that. Historically, a regressive charity based approach lead to the disabled being treated as objects of charity. The charity based model excluded the disabled form mainstream education, transportation, employment, recreational activities, etc. SW recommended, after appropriate consultations, enacting Disability Legislation and reviewing the Mental Health Act in accordance with international best practice.
2. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
13. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) noted that legal reform in 2015 achieved prohibition of corporal punishment of children in all settings outside the home. However, corporal punishment of children within the home remains lawful, despite repeated recommendations to prohibit it by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and recommendations made during the 1st cycle UPR of Trinidad and Tobago (rejected by the Government). It also considered that achieving full prohibition required the enactment of legislation explicitly repealing the right of parents to use corporal punishment in article 4 of the Children Act 2012.
4. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
19. SOGIE1 referred to the UPR first cycle and the recommendations 87.17, regarding rights of all children,28 and 87.26 regarding the increase of accessibility and quality of health services and education for all citizens.29 It noted that new child protection legislation and improvements in health and education services leave critical gaps in sexuality education, maintain laws enabling child marriage, and radically increase criminal penalties for same-sex sexuality between minors, while decriminalizing similar conduct between children of opposite sexes.
5. Right to social security and to an adequate standard of living
20. LWC noted that asylum seekers and refugees face limited integration prospects and continue to lack basic rights to an identification document. Even recognized refugees are unable to acquire a bank account and lack access to employment and guaranteed access to public social services such as education for children and health care. In addition, refugees who may otherwise qualify for employment or family based residency can often be denied this by having to choose one status within the immigration system. It recommended implementing the Refugee Policy to provide identity documents to recognised refugees so that, in accordance with their rights, refugees may access social services, obtain work and/or ministers permits to increase self-reliance and to pursue naturalisation options.
6. Right to health
25. ADF International underlined that Trinidad has experienced success in reducing maternal mortality in the past (the MMR dropped from 89 in 1990 to 59 in 2000). However, recent increases demonstrate the critical need for a renewed focus on maternal health and prenatal care. Poor diet and a corresponding rise in obesity and diabetes have contributed to the rise in maternal health problems. Moreover, the high adolescent birth rate (32.6, 2006-2010) is a significant contributing factor. The consequences of premature sexual activity have a disproportionate impact on young girls because their bodies are not developmentally prepared for pregnancy, in addition to the fact that they are more susceptible to HIV and other STIs due to biological factors. Education on responsible sexual behavior in conjunction with parents, in addition to community and religious leaders, is of vital importance. It recommended Trinidad and Tobago to dedicate resources to advance in healthcare services, infrastructure and education to improve maternal health.
26. SOGIE1 stressed that statistics on teenage pregnancy and HIV in Trinidad and Tobago underline the link between inadequate education, early sexual activity and negative sexual health outcomes. These include data from the Central Statistical Office that since the turn of the century teen pregnancy rates have not declined. Yet, the current Minister of Justice stated that religious education must form a part of the curriculum in all schools while sex education although apart of ther social studies curriculum , it was largely a matter of parental responsibilities.
7. Right to education
28. TTBWA noted that persons who are blind are unable to participate fully as a result of a lack of accessible printed materials in addition to trained teachers who are equipped to deal with persons with disabilities.
9. Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
32. It also recommended completing a National Plan of Action on Migration Detention in collaboration with all stakeholders, prioritizing alternatives to detention such as community-based reception alternatives as deliberated on during the UNHCR Global Roundtable on Reception and Alternatives to Detention; and reforming the Immigration Act to be compliant with International Human Rights Standards in the migration context such that all migrants, irrespective of status, are treated with dignity and respect with particular emphasis on more vulnerable groups such as LGBT migrants, children and the family unit, pregnant, lactating and single women, the elderly and the disabled.
The recommendations listed below enjoy the support of Trinidad and Tobago:
106.11 Continue to promote the rights of vulnerable groups, especially women, children and persons with disabilities (Senegal);
106.22 Prioritise measures to significantly reduce gender-based violence including violence against women and girls (Jamaica);
106.24 Take steps to strengthen policies aimed at addressing gender-based violence, domestic violence, sexual harassment, rape and child sexual abuse (Ghana);
106.32 Strengthen efforts to prevent and eradicate forced marriage of children and adolescents (Chile);
106.39 Strengthen and expand policies, protections and programs addressing gender-based violence and sexual exploitation of children, provide targeted training to law enforcement, and ensure survivors are protected and have access to medical and legal services (Canada);
106.41 Ensure proper investigation of child abuse (Germany);
106.42 Introduce more rigorous anti-trafficking laws to better protect women and girls (Sierra Leone);
106.50 Provide increased support to the family as the dominant and only natural environment suitable for raising children, to ensure adequate protection (Uganda);
106.57 Ensure the right to health of persons living with HIV/AIDS, through the strengthening of inter-institutional coordination, the establishment of programs to make available essential medicines, as well as strategies to address the increased rate of infection by HIV and new infections among adolescents and young women (Colombia);
106.65 Take all necessary legislative and policy measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have appropriate employment opportunities and children with disabilities have access to quality education (Singapore).
The recommendations listed below do not enjoy the support of Trinidad and Tobago:
108.13 Sign the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and its Optional Protocol, the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, as well as the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Spain);
108.14 Consider, to the extent possible, acceding to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Nicaragua);
108.15 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict (Switzerland);
108.16 Ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography (Uruguay);
108.17 Take all necessary measures to combat violence against children and ratify the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (France);
108.50 Review the Children Act of 2012 in order to decriminalize consensual sexual relations between minors of the same sex (Chile);
108.60 Repeal the right of parents to use corporal punishment (Slovenia);
108.61 Prohibit corporal punishment of children at home and in schools (Honduras);
108.53 Set the universal minimum age for marriage to 18 years, in line with the Civil Marriage Law (Norway);
108.54 Harmonize the minimum age for marriage, in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Paraguay);
108.55 Harmonize all its relevant legislation relating to the age of marriage and raise the age of marriage to 18 (Sierra Leone);
108.56 Raise the age of marriage to 18 for both boys and girls (Slovenia);
108.57 Raise the minimum age of marriage in the national legislation to align it with the definition of a child in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (Algeria);
108.58 Abolish child marriage by having a minimum age of marriage at 18 (Botswana);
108.59 Repeal the legislation that exempts spouses of minors from prosecution for sexual offences against their spouse (Norway);