Tobago’s Self-Governance and Legal Separation from T’dad

By Stephen Kangal
July 21, 2012

Stephen KangalIf Tobago were to be accorded full and effective internal self-governance in the current climate, it is mandatory that boundaries separating the domestic jurisdiction of both islands have to be established to demarcate the maritime limits of the reach of their respective law –creating capacity to avoid over-lapping or concurrent jurisdiction and reduce potential conflict.

Hitherto the erroneous criterion for marking these boundaries in Section 141 E of the Green Paper is the seaward limit of a ten-mile territorial sea (TS) measured from the baselines. Section 1:4 (2) of the Draft THA Bill leaves this TS limit open-ended. No definition has been put forward to establish the reach and application of laws intended for implementation exclusively within Trinidad’s jurisdictional space. Hence the definition below.

What legal drafters of both documents did not address are the following:

  • There are no areas of the territorial sea located between the baselines and between the islands of Tobago and Trinidad.
  • There are only maritime areas designated as archipelagic/internal waters
  • These archipelagic waters together with the off-shore islands of Tobago are excluded from the scope of the laws to be created by the new THA
  • The need consequently to identify alternative criteria to establish the mandatory limits in the intervening archipelagic waters since the 10-mile TS will not apply here.
  • What exactly are the “baselines of Tobago”, where do they begin and end since there are no baselines off the south-west, south and south-east coasts of Tobago?
  • There are no territorial sea/baselines enclosing each island separately.

To deal adequately with these issues I propose for consideration after having posted the Tobago definition in my last article the following two draft definitions of Trinidad in the context of the dialogue for legislating internal self-governance for Tobago:

“Trinidad will comprise the island of Trinidad and other islands that are enclosed landward of the archipelagic baselines drawn around it as well as its archipelagic waters, the 12-mile territorial sea and their respective superjacent air-space and shall also exercise, inter alia, sovereign rights, in accordance with Part III of Act No 24 of 1986, over the living and non-living resources appurtenant to its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ)) situated beyond the territorial sea and extending to the bilateral boundaries established with neighbouring states as well as to the jurisdictional limits mutually established in the intervening maritime areas separating the island of Trinidad from Tobago.”

OR

Definition of Trinidad to include islands

Trinidad will comprise the island of Trinidad and the islands of Monos, Gasparee, Nelson, Chacachacaree and other islands located landward of the archipelagic baselines drawn around it as well as its archipelagic waters, the 12-mile territorial sea and their respective superjacent air-space and shall also exercise, inter alia, sovereign rights, in accordance with Part III of  Act No 24 of 1986, over the living and non-living resources appurtenant to its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelf situated beyond the territorial sea and extending to the bilateral boundaries established with neighbouring states as well as to the jurisdictional limits mutually established in the intervening maritime areas separating the island of Trinidad.

5 Responses to “Tobago’s Self-Governance and Legal Separation from T’dad”


  • I am happy that the definitions of the two islands are being discussed. After this discussion we will then need to discuss how the separation of the two islands can take place. Then we can discuss whether we want the two islands to separate, become a federated body or remain as is.

  • Legal separation from Trinidad is necessary merely to delineate the geographical area in which the laws passed by the THA will be applicable on the specific areas lying within the law-creating competence of the new THA. I am not advocating the demise of the unitary state of T&T.

  • Why Mr. London waiting for the allocation of funds to make his move? Come out and say exactly what you want. Where this is heading too? and what would be the final scenario? We are so accustom to the two TT’s T&T, Trinidad and Tobago, even TTT, but when you separate the T’s you might get: THIN, TALL and TERRIBLE- Thanks for THAT… THA with your own T in :THAT

  • This has been an issue for a very long time but nothing positive has come out of it as yet. This was an issue before A.N.R. Robinson became Prime Minister, but after he became Prime Minister he abandoned the idea. I will have to examine the entire manifesto to see what benefits this action will bring to Tobago, since that is my hometown. I am in support of any action that will be of benefit to Tobago, we have been neglected for too long. If separating from Trinidad will improve Tobago and the lives of the people living there, I am 100% in support of it, and I will be one of the first Tobagonian to return to do what I could to ensure its success.

  • At this time where big countries are falling in humongous debts with their budget. Tobagonians will be very foolish to want to separate and go alone. They think they have money enough to stand alone. They have no ideas what it cost to run big cooperations.
    This is a time for countries to bind together to save themselve.

    Jack Warner and is whole bunch of politicans want money in their pockets. They do not really care much about Tobago themselves. You all will see this when they get in power. This is all about wanting to recognition. Tobagonians you all better read and watch the rich nations that are falling in debts. check out the G8 nations.

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