The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a parliamentary democracy governed by a prime minister and a bicameral legislature. The island of Tobago has a House of Assembly that has some administrative autonomy over local matters. In the May 2010 elections, which observers considered generally free and fair, the People’s Partnership coalition led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar of the United National Congress (UNC) defeated Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s People’s National Movement (PNM) government and secured a 29-to-12-seat majority in the Parliament. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
On August 21, the president declared a state of emergency in the wake of a sudden spike in killings. Parliament approved a three-month extension on September 4. During the state of emergency, the government had broad powers to use military units in law enforcement, enter homes without a warrant, ban public demonstrations and strikes, and detain persons without charge. Authorities arrested and detained more than 7,000 persons during the state of emergency, some without charges, and eventually released hundreds of persons for lack of evidence. The state of emergency expired on December 4.
The most serious human rights problems were police killings during apprehension or custody, as well as poor treatment of suspects, detainees, and prisoners.
Other human rights problems involved inmate illness and injuries due to poor prison conditions, high-profile cases of alleged bribery, violence against women, inadequate services for vulnerable children, and unsafe working conditions.
The government took some steps to punish security force members and other officials charged with killings or other abuse, but there continued to be a perception of impunity based on the open-ended nature of many investigations and the slow pace of criminal judicial proceedings in general.