As a human rights defender and lawyer, our law firm challenges the government on several high-profile cases relating to immigration, transnational crime, refugees, extrajudicial executions by the police, return of wives and children of foreign terrorist fighters, misconduct in public office and the use of force.

Trinidad and Tobago is a party to several international treaties which prohibit torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in all circumstances. They include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which prohibits any limitation of the right to life and freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment in all circumstances, even during states of ’emergency. The ICCPR also prohibits arbitrary and indefinite detention without charge, in violation of the right to due process. In our country, we are slow to apply the international mandates communicated.

United Nations Member States are committed to promoting universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms in cooperation with the United Nations. At the local level, we as a nation and our government must reaffirm the fundamental importance of the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and respect for human rights. My cumulative view is that Trinidad’s human rights mandate is in jeopardy. Failure to apply a coherent human rights policy will have an impact on the economy.

The financial impact of human rights

In reality, it is clear that economics and human rights have never been close friends. Human rights defenders have rarely engaged with the financial systems of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. But there is no denying that we live in a globalized economy where finance and human rights are integrated. The enforcement of all rights has a cost. Failure to deny education to a child will tomorrow have an economic cost to society as a whole. Investing in human rights is therefore essential for a progressive society.

One hundred and ninety-two countries have signed the United Nations Charter. The United Nations can be said to rule this world. The most significant achievement of the framers of the United Nations Charter was the emphasis placed in the provisions on the importance of social justice and human rights as the foundation of a stable international order. The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a member state and must follow its Security Council resolutions and development goals. Human rights and economic development are two central themes of the United Nations Charter. They are separate but related concepts. It is customary to treat human rights and economic development independently of each other; little attention has been paid to their interdependence.

Whether at the local, national or international level, economic policy is directly linked to the enjoyment of our fundamental human rights. Economic circumstances influence the level of enjoyment of many human rights. Failing to guarantee basic human rights will have a direct impact on our local economy in Trinidad and Tobago.

Gradually, several United Nations documents emphasize the need for a human rights-based approach in the development of economic policies. This approach will help us better respond to future economic crises that may afflict our republic while taking into account the needs of the most vulnerable and marginalized people in our society.

The positive effects of human rights economic growth can only be achieved through a strong policy and legislative framework based on effective government, investment, trade and human development.

It seems that human rights abuses are happening in Trinidad and Tobago. There is currently evidence that disregard and disregard for human rights has resulted in acts of barbarism at T&T. This can be exemplified by a long legal process, the lack of due process for migrants and the inability to find a solution to our country’s terrorism problem.

These issues can undermine international confidence in Trinidad and Tobago’s ability to wage an effective war on terrorism that remains true to the mandate of United Nations Security Council resolutions. These factors can also have a direct impact on our national economy. The United Nations and other countries would not want to do business with a country that has credible evidence of ongoing human rights abuses.

The United Nations is diligent in ensuring that support (financial and otherwise) to Trinidad and Tobago is provided in a manner that is consistent with the purposes and principles set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, and it is consistent with and promotes respect for international humanitarian law, human rights law and refugee law.

Our country should be aware of the Human Rights Due Diligence Policy (HRDDP) adopted in July 2011 by the United Nations. It is essential to understand this process, because it can have a direct impact on our economy.

Where serious human rights violations exist in Trinidad and Tobago and are reported, it is not too late for our nation to mitigate some of the damage by adequately addressing these violations. I recommend that Trinidad take a more progressive approach to respecting human rights. This must recognize the financial and economic well-being it brings to society and the social development needed to support a growing and vibrant community.

— The author is a