Written by Denise Pitcher, Caribbean Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) & Gisele Bonnici, IDC Americas Regional Coordinator

In June 2021, IDC’s partner the CCHR was granted a hearing at the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) on the “situation of migrants and refugees and persons deprived of their liberties” in Trinidad and Tobago. CCHR Co-chair Dr. Carolyn Gomes and Executive Director, Denise Pitcher, presented on a number of human rights issues including refoulement, deportations, access to justice and immigration detention. Immigration detention in Trinidad and Tobago remains an urgent issue with inhumane conditions, overcrowding, lack of monitoring of detention facilities, prolonged detention without legal basis, children in detention, no separation of women and children from men in immigration detention and lack of transparency by the government about Covid-19 protocols. CCHR also highlighted that in spite of being a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, Trinidad and Tobago does not have refugee legislation and thus there is no legal framework to guide how migrants and refugees are treated.

CCHR made several recommendations to the Commission in the hope of upholding the human rights  of migrants and refugees and persons deprived of their liberties. These recommendations included:

  • a request by the Commission for a country to observe the situation firsthand
  • to establish a working group with both local and international stakeholders to clarify the details, roles and responsibilities in the draft refugee policy and oversee its implementation

The IACHR was grateful to receive this report and requested additional information to support any follow up actions they may decide to take. The Commission proposed as a first step, sending an Article 8 letter to the government of Trinidad and Tobago with a list of questions on aspects of the situation and promised to follow up with other actions within the scope of their mandate.

IDC congratulates our partner CCHR for their ongoing advocacy to protect the human rights of migrants and refugees in Trinidad and Tobago. View the hearing video in full here.