Trinidad And Tobago 2022
Authorities continued to push back people seeking asylum, in violation of international human rights law. Venezuelan women continued to be at risk of gender-based violence.
In April, a task force, appointed by the Cabinet in 2021, tabled a 307-page report detailing abuse in children’s homes, re-igniting long-standing concerns about the treatment of children in state care.
Refugees’ and migrants’ rights
Trinidad and Tobago remained one of the few countries in the Americas to have no national legislation on asylum, despite being party to the UN Refugee Convention and its Protocol.
Despite this, UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, continued to process asylum claims in the country and by July had registered 22,500 asylum seekers and refugees, 87% of whom were from Venezuela. Civil society organizations, with support from UNHCR, continued to provide them with food assistance, mental health and psychosocial services, as well as healthcare services.
In February, several UN Special Rapporteurs, including the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, raised concerns about the “ongoing practice of pushbacks of migrants by the Coast Guard of Trinidad and Tobago.” They also highlighted the interception of a boat of 39 Venezuelans, including 10 children, which reportedly resulted in the death of a baby and injury to the mother. The UN Rapporteurs also expressed concern about the subsequent deportation of 35 of the 39 asylum seekers on the vessel, reportedly while an investigation into the death of the baby was ongoing.
In October, before a hearing at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, local NGO the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights expressed concern about reports of ongoing detention in inhumane conditions of Venezuelans and deportations without individualized assessments of protection needs and risk upon return.
Violence against women and girls
Women fleeing the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela continued to be at heightened risk of trafficking into the sex sector, rape and other forms of sexual violence, labour exploitation and debt bondage.
In September, according to media reports, the authorities launched a new programme, Heal Empower Rise – Counter Trafficking in Persons, with support from the US government and the International Organization for Migration.
The mandatory death penalty continued to be imposed for murder, including following virtual trials before one judge. In May, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the UK, Trinidad and Tobago’s highest court, upheld the constitutionality of the mandatory death penalty.