Case details

Commissioner of Prisons and another (Respondents) v Seepersad and another (Appellants) (Trinidad and Tobago)

Case ID: JCPC 2019/0112

Jurisdiction: Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Case summary

Issue

This appeal concerns the remand of two children within the Trinidad and Tobago criminal justice system. It raises three substantive issues for the Board of the Privy Council (the "Board") to consider, namely whether unlawful remand to the Arouca Woman’s Prison ("Arouca") and Youth Training Centre ("YTC") respectively amounted to:
1. detention without due process in breach of section 4(a) of the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution (the "Constitution");
2. a breach of each Appellant’s right to the protection of law pursuant to section 4(b) of the Constitution; and
3. a breach of each Appellant’s right not to be subject to cruel and unusual treatment pursuant to section 5(2)(b) of the Constitution.

Facts

In January 2014, the Appellants were jointly charged with murder. They were each of a comparatively young age, 16 and 12 respectively. Ms Seepersad was remanded to the Arouca (an adult prison) and Mr Seepersad was remanded to a YTC (for male offenders aged between 16 – 18). Shortly after the remand orders took effect, certain changes were made to the framework dealing with the treatment of children in the criminal justice system (collectively the "Children Act"). The Children Act provided for, among other things, remanded juveniles to be placed in custody in a "community residence". At the time the Children Act came into force, the Government had not established any community residences suitable for custodial purposes pursuant to the statutory definition.

The Appellants appeared before the Chief Magistrate for a second time in July 2015 and he remanded them back to the same institutions.

The Appellants challenged the basis of their detention as unsuitable on a number of grounds. The High Court (Trinidad and Tobago) (the "High Court") held in their favour on all grounds and made an award of damages. The Court of Appeal (Trinidad and Tobago) overturned the High Court’s findings and set aside all other orders, including as to costs.

The facts of this case are connected with another considered by the Board: Seepersad v Ayers-Caesar [2019] UKPC 7.

Parties

Appellant(s)

Seepersad and another

Respondent(s)

Commissioner of Prisons and another

Appeal

Justices

Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Hamblen, Lord Leggatt, Lord Burrows, Sir Bernard McCloskey

Hearing start date

11 March 2021

Hearing finish date

11 March 2021

Watch hearing
11 Mar 2021 Morning session Afternoon session