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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Police effectiveness with regard to domestic violence, including procedures followed by the police and victim when filing a complaint; whether a victim can obtain a copy of the complaint; the number of female officers on the police force; whether medical personnel are required to report abuse to the authorities; if so, whether doctors provide medical certificates or other documents to the police (2003-2008)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 18 November 2008
Citation / Document Symbol VCT102962.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Police effectiveness with regard to domestic violence, including procedures followed by the police and victim when filing a complaint; whether a victim can obtain a copy of the complaint; the number of female officers on the police force; whether medical personnel are required to report abuse to the authorities; if so, whether doctors provide medical certificates or other documents to the police (2003-2008), 18 November 2008, VCT102962.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/49913b6023.html [accessed 22 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, police officers in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are trained to handle cases of domestic violence (US 11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5). An emphasis is placed on filing a report and initiating court proceedings if there is sufficient evidence (ibid.). However, Country Reports 2007 also indicates that due to cultural reasons, incidents of domestic violence are often not reported to police and that due to societal pressure, victims have been known to drop charges after making a complaint to police (ibid.).

With respect to the effectiveness of the police in handling of cases of domestic violence in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, a representative of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVGHRA) provided the following information in 7 November 2008 correspondence to the Research Directorate:

Most police officers have limited knowledge and skills on domestic and family violence, inclusive of procedures, but a selective few treat the issue with seriousness. Trained officers receive general training in policing which they apply in domestic and family violence incidences and which lead to complications for the victim, who feels further victimized.

In addition, when female victims go to make reports, they are served by gross, disrespectful, chauvinistic, young male officers who feel that the victim asked for what she received. There are no specialized kits either. In most cases, the male police officers become impatient if the victim is hesitant in responding to questions.

Generally, the attitude of police officers, the open area for questioning and the overall ineffectiveness of the police and court, make the victim reluctant to testify.

Although a limited number of sensitive police officers try their utmost to facilitate and make the victim comfortable, when the matter gets to the court, the victim often withdraws as she is in most cases dependent on the perpetrator. The lengthy court process too also frustrates the victim.

If there is a protection order, the victim often feels unprotected as the absence of shelters makes the document merely an empty academic order. There are instances where the police is the perpetrator, therefore there is need to ensure that these officers or their friends do not deal with such cases as they tend to trivialize them.

The Representative from SVGHRA provided the following information with regard to police procedures:

A. Once the victim makes a complaint, the Police takes a statement, reads it to the victim, have them sign the document, then investigates. If there is physical scars, a medical form is issued to the victim and the person is advised to visit a doctor. On completion of the investigation, the matter is sent to the Director of Public Prosecution for consideration. If there is sufficient evidence, the matter is taken before the Court, Family Court or direct to High Court, depending on the seriousness of the allegation.

B. The victim reports the matter to the police, gives a statement and if there is physical evidence, medical forms are issued and a doctor is seen. The medical forms are returned to the police and action is taken. The victim will be notified if and when there is a Court date. [...] (SVGHRA 7 Nov. 2008)

The Representative from SVGHRA also noted that there are no shelters in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and that counselling and referral services are limited (ibid.). In addition, the Representative from SVGHRA observed that the medical profession is generally more supportive than the police (ibid.).

The following information was provided by the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in 18 November 2008 correspondence sent to the Research Directorate:

1. On receiving a complaint of any case of Domestic Violence, a report is recorded from the victim in writing; medical forms are issued to see the District Medical Officer. Those forms should be returned to the Police Officer who will conduct a full investigation into the complaint, then the person who committed the offence will be arrested and charged and taken before the Family Court where there will be a trial.

2. A Victim can obtain a copy of the complaint by applying to the Commissioner of Police in writing in care of Central Police Station, Box 835, Kingstown, St. Vincent West Indies.

3. The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force has a number of one hundred and twenty-one [121] female Police Officers.

4. Medical personnel are required to report any case of abuse to the authorities and are required to provide medical certificates or other relevant documents to the Police as required.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 18 November 2008. Royal Police Force. Correspondence received from the Office of the Commissioner of Police.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVGHRA). 7 November 2008. Correspondence received from a representative.

United States (US). 11 March 2008. Department of State. "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007. [Accessed 20 Aug. 2008]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Representatives of the Gender Affairs Division of the Ministry of Social Development, Cooperative, the Family, Gender and Ecclesiastical Affairs of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Marion House, and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions did not respond within the time constraints of this Response

Internet sources, including: Amnesty International (AI), Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), Organization of American States (OAS), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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