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Trinidad and Tobago

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not enforce the law effectively, and officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. There were credible reports of police and government corruption during the year.

Corruption: Corruption was a problem at many levels of government. Opaque public procurement processes were a concern. Statutes governing conflicts of interest were rarely enforced, making nepotism and corruption commonplace. There were credible reports of government ministries and public companies manipulating or bypassing established procurement procedures to favor specific vendors unfairly.

In January senior police officials acknowledged the involvement of police with transnational gangs in the trafficking of drugs, weapons, and persons. Police officers reportedly often accepted bribes and payments for assisting criminal enterprises.

In July a municipal official was charged with misbehavior in public office. He allegedly demanded a 15,000 Trinidadian dollar ($2,200) bribe from a contractor. The court granted bail to the official, and at year’s end the matter was still before the court.

In August stories in media alleged bribery within the police gun license unit, which issued private firearms licenses. Media reported that approximately 5,000 gun licenses were approved during former commissioner of police Gary Griffith’s tenure, compared with approximately 400 gun licenses issued annually by his predecessors. Media reported that the number of gun dealers and shooting ranges approved by Griffith also increased exponentially. There were allegations that businesses and individuals paid bribes to expedite gun licenses and that certain officers were reportedly given senior positions within the Firearms Unit to facilitate the issuance of these licenses. The Police Service Commission hired former judge Stanley John to probe the allegations and other issues of police misconduct. In August the director of public prosecutions charged two police officers for misbehavior in public office in corruptly obtaining and soliciting money to expedite the processing of firearm license applications.

NGOs reported, and government officials acknowledged, corruption, bribery, and extortion of immigration, police, and Coast Guard officials by human traffickers and by corrupt immigration officials.

In October the police’s Crime and Problem Analysis Unit reported that more than 840 reports of corruption were received during the year.

In November, Energy Minister Stuart Young acknowledged that corruption among public officials was a major factor in resistance to technology innovations such as electronic payments to replace cash systems because digitization allows greater efficiency, accountability, and transparency in payment systems.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Several domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials often were cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The Office of the Ombudsman investigates citizens’ complaints concerning the administrative decisions of government agencies. Where there is evidence of a breach of duty, misconduct, or criminal offense, the ombudsperson may refer the matter to the appropriate authority. The ombudsperson has a quasi-autonomous status within the government and publishes a comprehensive annual report. Both the public and the government had confidence in the integrity and reliability of the Office of the Ombudsman and the ombudsperson’s annual report.

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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future