Freedom in the World
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Trinidad and Tobago
Freedom in the World Scores
Since independence, Trinidad and Tobago has maintained a robust parliamentary democracy with a vibrant media and civil society. However, organized crime contributes to a difficult security environment, and corruption remains a challenge.
- The country continued to grapple with violent crime, linked mainly to drug trafficking.
- In October, a court invalidated the 2015 Bail (Amendment) Act, which stipulated that people accused of certain gang-related crimes were ineligible for bail for 120 days after being charged.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to maintain a fairly robust democracy, despite problems with corruption and organized crime. The media is vibrant and freedoms of assembly and association are generally respected.
In September 2016, a disagreement between President Anthony Carmona and Prime Minister Keith Rowley was made public by media reports. The dispute centered on a meeting between Carmona and National Security Minister Edmund Dillon regarding the security environment in the country. Rowley said the meeting had improperly taken place without his knowledge; Carmona claimed that he had notified the prime minister of the meeting, and affirmed his respect for the separation of powers. The dispute raised some concerns about the general transparency of government operations. Separately, in June, Government Senator Hafeez Ali of the governing People’s National Movement (PNM) resigned after sexually explicit videos of him spread across social media websites. Ali said the video was released as part of an extortion plot against him.
Meanwhile, the country continued to grapple with violent crime linked mainly to drug trafficking. Some observers expressed concern that the crisis in nearby Venezuela could contribute to an increase in the number of illegal firearms entering the country.
The 2015 Bail (Amendment) Act, which mandated that people accused of certain gang-related crimes were ineligible for bail for 120 days after being charged, was deemed unconstitutional in October. The ruling paved the way for people who were held on remand under the law to sue the government.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2017. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Trinidad and Tobago, see Freedom in the World 2016.