Located in the Caribbean, the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago – comprising the islands of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as several small islands – is a parliamentary democracy that declared its independence from Britain in 1952.
The Republic’s inhabitants represent a range of belief groups, influenced by the successive periods of colonization to which the islands were subjected independently, as well as the use of forced labor on the plantations during the colonial period. As such, the islands are majority Christian (58%) – the largest denomination of which are Roman Catholic (22%). Hindus account for a further 18% of the population. Other smaller religious groups include followers of syncretic African religions. The non-religious account for 2% of the population.
The Constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of opinion and expression. These rights are generally respected in practice.
Although not enforced in practice, the Trinidad and Tobago Criminal Offenses Act 1844, as amended, stipulates that any person who is convicted of any act or an attempt to commit “blasphemy, writing and publishing, or printing and publishing, any blasphemous libel . . . is liable to a fine and to imprisonment for two years.”
Additionally, the Miscellaneous Offenses Act 2000, added a new offence to the Summary Offences Act. Article 96A reads,
“Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any person who brings into contempt or disbelief or who attacks, ridicules or vilifies another person’s religion in a manner that is likely to provoke a breach of the peace commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars.”
Effectively inserting an additional de facto blasphemy law into the national legislative framework.