COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
30 July - 17 August 2001
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
343. The Committee considered the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and
fourteenth periodic reports of Trinidad and Tobago, due on 3 November
1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000, respectively, submitted as one document (CERD/C/382/Add.1),
at its 1470th and 1471st meetings (CERD/C/SR.1470 and 1471), on 1 and
2 August 2001. At its 1479th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1479), on 8 August 2001,
it adopted the following concluding observations.
344. The Committee welcomes the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth
periodic reports as well as the updated additional information that
the State party's delegation provided during its oral presentation,
and expresses its appreciation for the opportunity to renew its dialogue
with the State party after more than six years. The Committee notes
with appreciation that the report was more exhaustive and of a higher
quality than the previous periodic report.
B. Positive aspects
345. The Committee welcomes the relevant statistical information provided
by the State party in the report, which demonstrates an encouraging
effort to provide the Committee with information requested during the
consideration of the tenth periodic report.
346. The Committee welcomes the establishment of the Human Rights Unit
in the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Legal Affairs
to address, inter alia, the compliance with treaty obligations,
and the positive announcement by the delegation of the various measures
envisaged to disseminate the International Convention on the Elimination
of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the State party reports, as well
as the concluding observations and recommendations of the Committee.
347. The Committee notes that the State party has taken significant
steps which will contribute to combating racial discrimination, including
the passage of the Equal Opportunities Act, No. 39 of 2000, the Judicial
Review Act, No. 60 of 2000 and other pertinent legislation. The Committee
furthermore welcomes the proposed steps to strengthen the powers of
the Ombudsman, including to enable him to apply to the High Court for
the enforcement of his recommendations. The recent introduction of public
interest litigation by the Judicial Review Act should further assist
in the effective work of the Ombudsman.
C. Concerns and recommendations
348. The assertion by the State party as to the absence of racial discrimination
on its territory was not accepted by the Committee and it was recommended
by the Committee that the State party reconsider this stand.
349. The Committee is concerned at the absence in the State party of
specific legislative, administrative and other measures implementing
article 4 of the Convention, especially article 4 (b) prohibiting racist
organizations. While noting the opinion expressed by the delegation
that criminalizing dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority
or hatred, as well as racist organizations, could have adverse effects,
the Committee underlines the obligations in accordance with the Convention
and reiterates its view as to the preventive role of such legislation.
In this connection, the Committee also draws the attention of the State
party to its general recommendations VII and XV on the compatibility
of the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority
or hatred with the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Welcoming
the statement of the delegation that the State party is prepared to
re-examine its position in accordance with its obligations under the
Convention, the Committee urges the State party to give due consideration
to adopting the necessary legislation in compliance with article 4,
particularly article 4 (b), of the Convention as a matter of priority.
350. Moreover, the Committee requests the State party to include in
its next periodic report statistical information on prosecutions launched
and punishment awarded in cases of offences which have a bearing on
racial discrimination, including indirect discrimination, and where
the relevant provisions of the existing domestic legislation have found
application. The Committee reminds the State party that absence of complaints
by victims of racial discrimination could possibly be an indication
of a lack of awareness of available legal remedies. It is therefore
essential to inform the public of the availability of all legal remedies.
351. The Committee expresses its concern at the absence in this report
of specific information on the indigenous population as well as other
relatively small ethnic groups of the State party in the report, and
particularly the absence of a specific categorization of the indigenous
population as a separate ethnic group in official statistics on the
population. The Committee encourages the Government to include the indigenous
population in any statistical data as a separate ethnic group, and actively
to seek consultations with them as to how they prefer to be identified,
as well as on policies and programmes affecting them.
352. The Committee is concerned that the Police Complaints Authority,
which receives complaints about the conduct of police officers and monitors
their investigation, has indicated that racial discrimination is not
a category of complaint which is examined, owing to the small number
of such complaints. The Committee welcomes the assurances of the delegation
that the Police Complaints Authority will be given clear instructions
to identify complaints of racial discrimination as a separate category
and to report to the higher authorities the results of investigations
into cases of racial discrimination.
353. The Committee notes the absence of any reference in the report
to the contribution of civil society organizations in the promotion
of ethnic harmony and in the preparation of the periodic report, and
expresses its hope that the next periodic report will reflect the contribution
of such organizations, particularly those dealing with issues related
to combating racial discrimination.
354. The Committee notes the lack of disaggregated data on the student
population and encourages the Government to take appropriate steps to
ensure the provision of adequate statistics on this segment of the population.
355. The State party is invited to provide further information in its
next periodic report on the following issues: (a) the ethnic composition
of the population and in particular statistical data relating to the
numerically small ethnic groups; (b) sufficient data on the employment
of different racial groups in government service in different sectors,
including comparative data, so as to indicate changes in the ethnic
distribution in government service; (c) the involvement of civil society
organizations in addressing issues related to racial discrimination
and in raising awareness of the Convention; (d) the outcome of investigations
of complaints with the Ombudsman's office and the respective remedies,
particularly with regard to cases of racial discrimination; and (e)
the functioning and impact of the new legislation pertinent to combating
racial discrimination, in particular the new Equal Opportunities Act,
No. 39 of 2000 and the corresponding institutional framework, particularly
the Equal Opportunity Commission and the Equal Opportunity Tribunal,
with regard to their functioning, membership and performance.
356. It is noted that the State party has not made the optional declaration
provided for in article 14 of the Convention, and the Committee recommends
that the possibility of such a declaration be considered.
357. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the amendments
to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January
1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention.
358. The Committee recommends that the State party's reports be made
readily available to the public from the time they are submitted and
that the Committee's observations on them be similarly publicized.
359. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its fifteenth
periodic report jointly with its sixteenth periodic report, due on 3
November 2004, and that it address all points raised in the present