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The Impact of The British Law System to The Law Structure in Trinidad and Tobago

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Miscarriage of Justice
    Due Process
  3. Conclusion


The legal System in Trinidad and Tobago is based on the British common law and national statutory laws. Although the legal systems of the former British colonies share many similarities. They differ in some respect. British common law the primary foundation of the legal systems at the time of independence. (Caribbean Human Development Report 2012 pg.117). Over the last decade the Crime Statistics in Trinidad and Tobago suggest that the Police Service is struggling to execute its function as an agent of social control. This has led to negative cycle where the lack of efficiency has negatively impacted on the relationship between the police and the citizenry and this in turn has contributed to the escalating crime situation. (A Report Citizen Security Trinidad and Tobago pg.105). The populace in Trinidad and Tobago has lost confidence in the Criminal Justice System because there is miscarriage of justice, due process does not take place, and not enough money is invested in technology to fighting crime.

Miscarriage of Justice

Victor Nealon (1997) served seventeen (17) years in prison for attempted sexual assault. Police officers never carried out Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) investigation revealed that the garment contained samples from another man (not the accused). Nealon was released in December 2013. Miscarriage of Justice often unveiled when fresh evidence emerges showing that innocent men and or women are often imprisoned. Some have served as many as seven (7) years. Sam Hallam (2005) was sentence to life in prison for the death of trainee chef Essayas Kassahun, but evidence from Hallam phone showed he was not at the crime scene police did not investigate his cell phone. The causes of miscarriage of justice are by many and varied but it is possible to draw upon a number of major causes to provide a summary. Miscarriage of justice is used in the context of appeals from civil or criminal cases. In Trinidad and Tobago miscarriage of justice is another major cause for concern in the criminal justice system. Innocent men and women are wrongly accused of crime that they did not commit because a proper investigation was not done. Indigent clients do not get proper representation from attorneys because their pay package from the government is not high. Private attorneys are well paid hence, they work harder to represent their clients to prove their innocents. The Justice System is failing without proper investigation practices and training from police officers the public has lost confidence in the justice system.

Due Process

Due Process is a fundamental, constitutional guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice; the proceedings acts to take away one’s life, liberty, or property. A constitutional guarantee that a law shall be unreasonable arbitrary capricious. Miranda V. Arizona (1966) Ernesto Miranda was arrested after a crime victim identified him, but police officers questioning him did not inform him of his Fifth Amendment right against Self- incrimination, or of his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of an attorney. (Criminal Justice, Pg. 222). Richie Gunness V. The Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago (H.C. 746/2013 C.V.2013-007460) Justice kokaram. Gunness alleges that his constitutional rights of the due process of law and to a fair trial were breached by the state when he spent seven (7) extra days in Remand Yard on the mistaken premise that he was to be held in remand custody with his bail as before on a criminal charge (Judiciary of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) his constitutional rights of a fair trial was infringed. Moreover, the right of a speedy trail discuss under due process is happening every day in court system. Cases are brought forward after years of awaiting trial. This brings frustration to inmates causing an uproar in prison, where planned prison break and different ways to escape are foiled at times.


Criminals have sophisticated guns, night vision cameras, surveillance equipment comparing to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS). Cases are investigated, but do the police have all the resources needed to do a proper investigation? For instance, whenever sex offenders are released into society there is a lack of information as the media does not inform the public, no pictures, or any information is published on any form of the media alerting the public. This reason and more is why the public has lost confidence in the justice system. From the coast guards to air guards the criminal justice system has failed. What is being done to eradicate crime out of our nation’s streets? How much money is being put into the criminal justice system to invest in powerful guns, equipment’s that can assist in fighting the battle of crime? However, a major area of concern is not proper training given in technology- related activities in the police service and forensic providing information on the use in law enforcement. Cameras need to be installed in police vehicles to see and hear how a proper arrest is done. Technology can break the chain of complaints from citizens, reports can easily be reviewed to find out if a crime was committed or wrongful arrest has not happen.


The criminal justice system in Trinidad and Tobago is failing every day, not enough is being done to implement the laws. Criminals run free rooming our streets preying on innocent citizens. There is an urgent need to deal with cases faster so that justice can be swift. Once the justice system implement proper investigations methods, adhere to constitutional rights of citizens, and give proper training to law enforcement. Citizens will regain confidence in the justice system. The justice system includes magistrates, attorneys, police officers, prison officers, and the like, they are all actors in the justice system. The criminal justice system in Trinidad and Tobago need to be revised. Laws from the past cannot be used because criminals are more innovative.

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