COMMITTEE ON THE
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
Trinidad and Tobago
31. The seventh,
eighth, ninth and tenth periodic reports of Trinidad and Tobago, submitted
in one document (CERD/C/224/Add.1), were considered by the Committee, at
its 1072nd meeting, held on 28 February 1995 (CERD/C/SR.1072).
32. The reports
were introduced by the representative of the State party who indicated that
since the submission of the last report, the Government of Trinidad and
Tobago had enacted a series of laws intended to promote the interests of
various sectoral interest groups. The representative then emphasized that
the information on the ethnic and religious composition of the population
provided by the most recent census was merely one of record-keeping for
statistical purposes. The Government continued to maintain that the categorization
of the population along these lines might lead to racial division and disharmony,
and that the country should not pursue strategies for development which
divided the nation along racial or ethnic lines. The Government had worked
to integrate all the people of Trinidad and Tobago, on a non-discriminatory
basis, into one society.
33. Members of
the Committee welcomed the fact that Trinidad and Tobago had decided to
resume submitting periodic reports after a hiatus of eight years and urged
the Government to continue its renewed dialogue with the Committee.
34. Members of
the Committee asked why the Caribs had all but disappeared, exactly how
many were left, why they were not treated as a separate racial group and
whether measures were being taken to help them, particularly in the economic
and educational fields, so as to compensate them for the injustices they
35. Members of
the Committee also asked why there were no political refugees in Trinidad
and Tobago, although in some neighbouring countries political persecution
was resulting in flows of refugees, or whether the refugees in Trinidad
and Tobago enjoyed some other status.
36. With regard
to article 4, members of the Committee noted, as during the consideration
of the sixth report, that the Sedition Act posed a problem in that a seditious
intention, as defined by the Act, was extremely difficult to prove in practice
and that the Act, while it admittedly conformed to the provisions of article
4 (a), in no way conformed to those of subparagraph (b). It did not seem
enough to condemn organizations or organized groups preaching discrimination
in any form. Members therefore wondered whether specific legislative measures
had been taken since 1987 to supplement existing measures concerning the
implementation of article 4.
37. Regarding the
implementation of the provisions of article 5 of the Convention, some members
of the Committee noted that it would be helpful to have the results of the
survey of recruitment practices in the public and private sectors which
was scheduled to be carried out in 1994, and to know whether the survey
had revealed cases of racial discrimination in hiring. Some members of the
Committee asked why the numbers of Trinidad nationals of African origin
employed in the public and private sectors differed from the numbers of
those of Indian origin employed, although the size of the two communities
was about the same. They asked whether measures had been taken by the Government
to redress that ethnic imbalance with regard to employment. On the question
of education, members of the Committee asked why there was such an overwhelming
predominance of catholic schools, while Hindu schools seemed few in number.
Members also asked whether all social groups enjoyed equal access to higher
38. With regard
to article 6, members noted that victims of acts of discrimination could
apply to the High Court and asked whether Trinidad law provided for remedy
procedures which were less protracted and less costly and whether the fact
that no cases of alleged State violations of human rights on grounds of
race, origin, colour, religion or sex had been brought before the High Court
might not be due to unfamiliarity with the provisions of the Convention.
39. On article
7, members asked about the existence of information programmes designed
to familiarize police officers with the provisions of the Convention.
40. Finally, members
asked whether the Trinidad authorities intended to make the declaration
referred to in article 14 of the Convention and, in accordance with the
Committee's general recommendation XVII (42) and with various recommendations
of the Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations General Assembly,
establish a national institution to facilitate the implementation of the
41. In reply to
the Committee's questions and observations, the representative of the State
party explained that Trinidad had no refugee problem because people wishing
to emigrate went to other countries in the region, such as the United States
of America. However, two members of a Haitian junior football team had recently
applied for, and been granted, refugee status.
42. There were
historical reasons for the differences in the distribution of ethnic groups
between the public and private sectors. Following the abolition of slavery,
former slaves, who were of African descent, settled in towns, while people
of Indian descent, who had been hired as agricultural workers, remained
in the rural areas, mainly where sugar cane was grown.
43. There was no
racial obstacle to access to education. Students wishing to take higher
studies were selected on the basis of their examination results at the end
of secondary school. Similarly, students wishing to take secondary studies
must sit an entrance examination which was the same throughout the country.
44. At its 1094th
meeting, held on 15 March 1995, the Committee adopted the following concluding
is expressed as to the submission of the report and the readiness of the
Government of Trinidad and Tobago to resume, after a break of eight years,
a dialogue with the Committee. It is noted with regret that the report under
consideration did not comply with the Committee's revised general guidelines
for the preparation of reports. However, the oral dialogue allowed the Committee
to re-establish cooperation with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago with
a view to the effective implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
is expressed with regard to the commitment of the Government of Trinidad
and Tobago to combat racial discrimination and hatred and the efforts made
by the State party to comply with the provisions of the Convention.
subjects of concern
47. It is noted
that there is a lack of information provided by the Government of Trinidad
and Tobago with regard to the legal status of the Convention in the domestic
legislation. Concern is expressed on the failure to adopt legislative, administrative
and other measures implementing article 4 of the Convention (especially
paragraph (b)). It is noted that the report did not provide adequate information
on access of the various ethnic groups to primary, secondary and tertiary
education. It is also regretted that the report did not give a clear picture
of the actual implementation of articles 6 and 7 of the Convention.
48. The Committee
calls upon the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to report to the Committee
on a regular basis, in compliance with its obligations under article 9 of
the Convention. The Committee recommends that appropriate consideration
should be given by the State party to the effective implementation of article
4 of the Convention, especially paragraph (b), in national legislation.
The Committee recommends that more publicity be given to make the public
aware of the right to seek from national tribunals just and adequate reparation
for any damage suffered as a result of racial discrimination. The Committee
further recommends that police officials receive intensive training to ensure
that in the performance of their duties they uphold the human rights of
all persons without distinction as to race, colour, descent or ethnic origin.
The Committee, noting that the eleventh report of Trinidad and Tobago was
due on 4 November 1994, invites the Government to submit a brief report
on matters outstanding as a result of the Committee's consideration of the
tenth report. It expects the twelfth report to be comprehensive and to be
submitted by 4 November 1996.