Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago/Chapter 1
- 1 Part 1 Rights Enshrined
- 2 Part 2 Exceptions for Existing Law
- 3 Part 3 Exceptions for Exsisting Emergencies
- 4 Part 4 Exceptions for Certain Legislation
- 5 Part 5 General
Part 1 Rights Enshrined
Recognition and Declaration of Rights and Freedoms
4.- It is hereby recognised and declared that in Trinidad and Tobago there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms, namely:-
a. the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;
b. the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;
c. the right of the individual to respect for his private and family life;
d. the right of the individual to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions;
e. the right to join political parties and to express political views;
f. the right of a parent or guardian to provide a school of his own choice for the education of his child or ward;
g. freedom of movement;
h. freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance;
i. freedom of thought and expression;
j. freedom of association and assembly; and
k. freedom of the press.
Protection of Rights and Freedoms
5.- 1. Except as is otherwise expressly provided in this Chapter and in section 54, no law may abrogate, abridge or infringe or authorise the abrogation, abridgement or infringement of any of the rights and freedoms hereinbefore recognised and declared.
2. Without prejudice to subsection (1), but subject to this Chapter and to section 54, Parliament may not-
a. authorise or effect the arbitrary detention, imprisonment or exile of any person;
b. impose or authorise the imposition of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment;
c. deprive a person who has been arrested or detained-
i. of the right to be informed promptly and with sufficient particularity of the reason for his arrest or detention;
ii. of the right to retain and instruct without delay a legal adviser of his own choice and to hold communication with him;
iii. of the right to be brought promptly before an appropriate judicial authority;
iv. of the remedy by way of habeas corpus for the determination of the validity of his detention and for his release if the detention is not lawful;
d. authorise a court, tribunal, commission, board or other authority to compel a person to give evidence unless he is afforded protection against self-incrimination and, where necessary to ensure such protection, the right to legal representation;
e. deprive a person of the right to a fair hearing in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice for the determination of his rights and obligations;
f. deprive a person charged with a criminal offence of the right-
i. to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law, but this shall not invalidate a law by reason only that the law imposes on any such person the burden of proving particular facts;
ii. to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal or;
iii. to reasonable bail without just cause;
g. deprive a person of the right to the assistance of an interpreter in any proceedings in which he is involved or in which he is a party or a witness, before a court, commission, board or other tribunal, if he does not understand or speak English; or
h. deprive a person of the right to such procedural provisions as are necessary for the purpose of giving effect and protection to the aforesaid rights and freedoms.
Part 2 Exceptions for Existing Law
Savings for Existing Law
6.- 1. Nothing in sections 4 and 5 shall invalidate-
a. an existing law;
b. an enactment that repeals and re-enacts an existing law without alteration; or
c. an enactment that alters an existing law but does not derogate from any fundamental right guaranteed by this Chapter in a manner in which or to an extent to which the existing law did not previously derogate from that right.
2. Where an enactment repeals and re-enacts with modifications an existing law and is held to derogate from any fundamental right guaranteed by this Chapter in a manner in which or to an extent to which the existing law did not previously derogate from that right then, subject to sections 13 and 54 , the provisions of the existing law shall be substituted for such of the provisions of the enactment as are held to derogate from the fundamental right in a manner in which or to an extent to which the existing law did not previously derogate from that right.
3. In this section-
"alters" in relation to an existing law, includes repealing that law and re-enacting it with modifications or making different provisions in place of it or modifying it;
"existing law" means a law that had effect as part of the law of Trinidad and Tobago immediately before the commencement of this Constitutions, and includes any enactment referred to in subsection (1);
"right" includes freedom.
Part 3 Exceptions for Exsisting Emergencies
7.- 1. Without prejudice to the power of Parliament to make provision in the premise, but subject to this section, where any period of public emergency exists, the President may, due regard being had to the circumstances of any situation likely to arise or exist during such period make regulations for the purpose of dealing with that situation and issue orders and instructions for the purpose of the exercise of any powers conferred on him or any other person by any Act referred to in subsection (3) or instrument made under this section or any such Act.
2. Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) regulations made under that subsection may, subject to section 11, make provision for the detention of persons.
3. An Act that is passed during a period of public emergency and is expressly declared to have effect only during that period or any regulations made under subsection (1) shall have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 except in so far as its provisions may be shown not to be reasonably justifiable for the purpose of dealing with the situation that exists during that period.
Period of Public Emergency
8.- 1. Subject to this section, for the purposes of this Chapter, the President may from time to time make a Proclamation declaring that a state of public emergency exists.
2. A Proclamation made by the President under subsection (1) shall not be effective unless it contains a declaration that the President is satisfied-
a. that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the imminence of a state of war between Trinidad and Tobago and a foreign State;
b. that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence or of infectious disease, or other calamity whether similar to the foregoing or not; or
c. that action has been taken, or is immediately threatened, by any person, of such a nature and on so extensive a scale, as to be likely to endanger the public safety or to deprive the community or any substantial portion of the community of supplies or services essential to life.
Grounds for, and Initial Duration of Proclamation
9.- 1. Within three days of the making of the Proclamation, the President shall deliver to the Speaker for presentation to the House of Representatives a statement setting out the specific grounds on which the decision to declare the existence of a state of public emergency was based, and a date shall be fixed for a debate on this statement as soon as practicable but in any event not later than fifteen days from the date of the Proclamation.
2. A Proclamation made by the President for the purposes of and in accordance with this section shall, unless previously revoked, remain in force for fifteen days.
Extension of Proclamation
10.- 1. Before its expiration the Proclamation may be extended from time to time by resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives, so however, that no extension exceeds three months and the extensions do not in ths aggregate exceed six months.
2. The Proclamation may be further extended from time to time for not more than three months at any one time, by a resolution passed by both Houses of Parliament and supported by the votes of not less that three-fifths of all the members of each House.
3. The Proclamation may be revoked at any time by a resolution supported by a simple majority vote of the House of Representatives.
4. In this Chapter "period of public emergency" means any period during which-
a. Trinidad and Tobago is engaged in any war; or
b. there is in force a Proclamation by the President declaring that a state of public emergency exists; or
c. there is in force a resolution of both Houses of Parliament supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of all the members of each House declaring that democratic institutions in Trinidad and Tobago are threatened by subversion.
Detention of Persons
11.- 1. Where any person who is lawfully detained by virtue only of such an Act or regulations as is referred to in section 7 so requests at any time during the period of that detention and thereafter not earlier than six months after he last made such a request during that period, his case shall be reviewed by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law and presided over by a person appointed by the Chief Justice from among the persons entitled to practise in Trinidad and Tobago as barristers or solicitors.
2. On any review by a tribunal in pursuance of subsection (1) of the case of any detained person, the tribunal may make recommendations concerning the necessity or expediency of continuing his detention to the authority by whom it was ordered but, unless otherwise provided by law, that authority shall not be obliged to act in accordance with such recommendations.
12.- 1. Where at any time it is impracticable or inexpedient to publish in the Gazette any Proclamation, Notice, Regulation or Order in pursuance of this Part, the President may cause the same to be published by notices thereof affixed to public buildings or distributed amongst the public or by oral public announcements.
2. Upon the publication of any Proclamation under this part all such detention orders, curfew orders or other instruments, directions or instructions as are authorised to be made, issued or given by any regulations referred to in section 7 may be made, issued or given and executed upon any person or authority, even if such regulations have not yet been published pursuant to subsection (1).
Part 4 Exceptions for Certain Legislation
Acts Inconsistent With Sections 4 and 5
13.- 1. An Act to which this section applies may expressly declare that it shal have effect even though inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 and, if any such Act does so declare, it shall have effect accordingly unless the Act is shown not to be reasonably justificable in a society that has a proper respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual.
2. An Act to which this section applies is one the bill for which has been passed by both Houses of Parliament and at the final vote thereon in each House has been supported by the votes of not less than three-fifths of all the members of that House.
3. For the purposes of subsection (2) the member of members of the Senate shall, notwithstanding the appointment of temporary members in accordance with section 44, be deemed to be the number of members specified in section 40(1).
Part 5 General
Enforcement of the General Provisions
14.- 1. For the removal of doubts it is hereby declared that if any person alleges that any of the provisions of this Chapter has been, is being, or is likely to be contravened in relation to him, then without prejudice to any other action with respect to the same matter which is lawfully available, that person may apply to the High Court for redress by way of originating motion.
2. The High Court shall have original jurisdiction-
a. to hear and determine any application made by any person in pursuance of subsection (1), and
b. to determine any question arising in the case of any person which is referred to it in pursuance of subsection (4),
and may, subject to subsection (3), make such orders, issue such writs and give such directions as it may consider appropriate for the purpose of enforcing, or securing the enforcement of, any of the provisions of this Chapter to the protection of which the person concerned is entitled.
No. 17 of 1966
3. The State Liability and Proceedings Act, 1966 shall have effect for the purpose of any proceedings under this section.
4. Where in any proceedings in any court other than the High Court or the Court of Appeal any question arises as to the contravention of any of the provisions of this Chapter the person presiding in that court may, and shall if any party to the proceedings so requests, refer the question to the High Court unless in his opinion the raising of the question is merely frivolous or vexatious.
5. Any person aggrieved by any determination of the High Court under this section may appeal therefrom to the Court of Appeal and shall be entitled as of right to a stay of execution of the order and may in the discretion of the Court be granted bail.
6. Nothing in this section shall limit the power of Parliament to confer on the High Court or the Court of Appeal such powers as Parliament may think fit in relation to the exercise by the High Court or the Court of Appeal, as the case may be, of its jurisdiction in respect of the matters arising under this Chapter.