Whether provisions of the 1999 Domestic Violence Act are in effect; effectiveness of the Act; enforcement of the Act by police [TTO40029.E]

The Director of Gender Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago confirmed in a telephone interview on 17 October 2002, that the provisions of the 1999 Domestic Violence Act are currently in effect. "There was a strong resistance to the Act when it was introduced in 1999," stated the Director (TT 17 Oct. 2002). She also mentioned that there was a significant increase in domestic murder cases during the time of the implementation of the Act, but that she could not be certain whether the murders were a result of the Act (ibid.). The Director is expecting to receive the statistics that measure the number of domestic violence claims since the implementation of the Act in the near future (ibid.).

In a telephone interview on 11 October 2002, the coordinator of the Network of NGO's of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women commented that more work needs to be done to raise public awareness about the Domestic Violence Act and inform people about how to use it. Women, according to the coordinator, may not know where to go for information and support, or that they should have a credible witness accompany them when they file a complaint (11 Oct. 2002). She also reported that a new Coalition Against Domestic Violence, made up of advocates in various professions, has been formed in order to maximize the effectiveness of the Act (ibid.).

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001, states that the 1999 Domestic Violence Act "allowed easier access for police in instances of domestic violence" (March 2002, sec. 5, "Women"). However, the coordinator of the Network mentioned that some communities are better than others with regard to police enforcement despite the fact that police have official policies and guidelines to follow (Network 11 Oct. 2002). Country Reports supports her assertion:

The establishment of a community police division improved police responsiveness to reports of domestic abuse, but some police officers are reportedly unsympathetic or reluctant to pursue such cases, resulting in underreporting of crimes of violence against women (March 2002, sec. 5, "Women").

Moreover, the chairperson of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence wrote in a letter to the Trinidad and Tobago Law Association that "'a number of battered women have reported to us that they have been repeatedly asked to pay up front for court appearances in domestic matters to attorneys who do not appear'" (IPS 4 Jan. 2000).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Inter Press Service (IPS). Peter Richards. 4 January 2000. "Rights-Trinidad and Tobago: Backlog Sparks Push for Family Court." (NEXIS)

Network of NGO's of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women (Network). 11 October 2002. Telephone interview with the coordinator.

Trinidad and Tobago (TT). Community Development and Gender Affairs. 17 October 2002. Telephone interview with the Director of Gender Affairs.

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001. March 2002. Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. United States Department of State. http://www.usemb.se/human/2001/west/trinidad.html [Accessed 10 Oct. 2002]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB Databases


Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International (AI)

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Parliament of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)