U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Antigua and Barbuda
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Antigua and Barbuda, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa3d10.html [accessed 25 July 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDAAntigua and Barbuda is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. A prime minister, a cabinet, and a bicameral legislative assembly compose the Government. A Governor General, appointed by the British monarch, is the titular head of state, with largely ceremonial powers. Prime Minister Lester B. Bird's Antigua Labour Party (ALP) has controlled the Government and Parliament since 1976. During the last elections in March 1994, the ALP retained power by capturing 10 of 17 parliamentary seats, down from the 15 it held under the administration of V.C. Bird Sr., the current Prime Minister's father. The Governor General appoints the 15 senators, 11 with the advice of the Prime Minister and 4 with the advice of the opposition leader. The judiciary is independent. Security forces consist of a police force and the small Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force. The police are organized, trained, and supervised according to British law enforcement practices and have a reputation for respecting individual rights in the performance of their duties. Antigua and Barbuda has a mixed economy with a strong private sector. Tourism is the most important source of foreign exchange earnings. The country is burdened by a large and growing external debt, which remains a serious economic problem. Per capita gross national product was about $7,800 in 1996. Although the Government generally respected constitutional provisions for political and civil rights, opposition parties complained that they received no coverage or opportunity to express their views on the government-controlled electronic media. Societal discrimination and violence against women also continued to be problems.