curbcrime

Country Report on T&T Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse, prison sexual abuse on April 1, 2008 at 6:21 am

In March 2008 the United States Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor published its annual Country reports on Human Rights Practices worldwide.

With respect to Trinidad and Tobago, the report expressed concern over incidents of alleged cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment:-

“Although the constitution and the law prohibit such practices, there were credible reports that police officers and prison guards mistreated individuals under arrest or in detention.”

In referring specifically to prison and detention center conditions, the report conceded that, while conditions in the prison system’s eight facilities were somewhat upgraded, they continued to be harsh.

In purporting to quote the Prison Service Commissioner, the report states that the number of prisoners at the Port of Spain prison, originally designed to accommodate 250 inmates, increased to 599 in 2007, compared to 554 in 2006. The average number of prisoners in each 10- by 10-foot cell increased to a maximum of eight.

According to prison authorities, at the end of 2007 they had brought charges against 23 prison officers for assault and battery or for poor conduct on the job, including possession of narcotics and provision of cell phones to inmates.

One notable incident of death in custody which raises concerns for the safety of prisoners in general is that of the August 3rd death of Letroy Beepath. Mr. Beepath died from alleged blunt trauma to the chest while in remand at Golden Grove Prison.

On August 22, 2007 the police completed their investigation into Beepath’s death and submitted the case to the chief of homicide investigations, where it remained at year’s end.

The September 19, 2007 alleged suicide of Golden Grove Prison inmate Kurt Alexander also raises questions of the safety of incarcerated persons. Mr. Alexander allegedly hanged himself in his cell while awaiting trial for sexually assaulting a four-year-old boy in 2004.

Despite recommendations that he be isolated due to two unsuccessful suicide attempts, Alexander was kept in a cell with six other prisoners.

CURB calls for an independent inquiry to be launched by the Office of the Ombudsman into deaths in custody of remanded and convicted persons over the past 20 years.

We also desire that the Forensic Sciences Department of the Ministry of National Security be mandated to investigate and make notes as to the state of the genital organs and anal cavities of all inmates who die in custody.

It is only in this way that the loved ones of those who die in custody would be able to obtain true justice.

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