NGO report

A Penalty Without Legitimacy: The Mandatory Death Penalty in Trinidad and Tobago

By Douglas Mendes / Florence Seemungal / Jeffrey Fagan / Roger Hood / The Death Penalty Project, on 1 January 2009

As a result of legal challenges, and in line with the trend worldwide, the mandatory death penalty has now been abolished in nine Caribbean countries and a discretion to impose a lesser sentence has been given to the judges of the Eastern Caribbean, Belize, Jamaica and the Bahamas. However, in relation to Trinidad & Tobago, in the case of Charles Matthew (Matthew v The State [2005] 1 AC 433), a majority of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council decided – notwithstanding that the mandatory death penalty was cruel and unusual punishment in violation of entrenched fundamental freedoms and human rights established in the Constitution of Trinidad & Tobago – that it remained protected from constitutional challenge by the operation of the “savings clause” in the Constitution. As a result, Trinidad & Tobago remains one of only three Commonwealth Caribbean countries (Barbados and Guyana being the other two) that still retains the mandatory death penalty.

  • Document type NGO report
  • Themes list Mandatory Death Penalty,