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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Grenada

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1995
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1994 - Grenada, 30 January 1995, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
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.


Grenada is a parliamentary democracy, with a Governor General as titular Head of State. When no political party received a clear majority in the 1990 elections, the Governor General appointed Nicholas Brathwaite as Prime Minister. He successfully formed a majority government around National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentarians. The next elections must be held by July 1995.

The 750-member Royal Grenada Police Force is responsible for maintaining law and order. It is controlled by and responsive to civilian authorities. Grenada has a small free market economy based upon agriculture and tourism. The real economic growth rate was about 2.1 percent in mid-1994, in comparison with 1.0 percent in 1993.

Grenadians enjoy a wide range of civil and political rights. Human rights problems included allegations of police brutality in the course of criminal investigations, but there were no documented cases. The Commissioner of Police handles perceptions of police abuse swiftly and effectively.


Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:

a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of politically motivated or other extrajudicial killings.

b. Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances or abductions.

c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution specifically prohibits torture, and there were no reported incidents of torture in 1994. The press occasionally reported individual claims of police brutality, some of which arose following the complainants' alleged attempts to resist arrest. The Police Commissioner supervised officers investigating a few complaints, but did not release any results. No one brought a case of police brutality before the courts in 1994. The Police Commissioner can discipline officers in valid cases of brutality with penalties which may include dismissal from the force. The Police Commissioner has spoken out strongly against police use of unlawful force.

Flogging, a legal form of punishment, is rare but has been used recently in sex crime and theft cases.

d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

According to law, the police have the right to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but they must bring formal charges within 48 hours. The police adhered to this time limit in practice. If the police do not charge a detainee within 48 hours, they must release the person.

The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of detention within 15 days after arrest on a criminal charge. The police must formally arraign or release a detained person within 60 days, and the authorities generally followed these procedures. There is a functioning system of bail, although persons charged with capital offenses are not eligible. Persons charged with treason may be accorded bail only upon recommendation of the Governor General.

In 1994 no one was detained for political reasons. Exile is not practiced.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and the authorities observe it in practice. There is a presumption of innocence, and the law protects persons against self-incrimination and requires the police to explain a person's rights upon arrest. The accused has the right to remain silent and to seek the advice of legal counsel. The lawyer has the right to be present during interrogation and may advise the accused how to respond or not to respond to questions. The accused has the right to confront his accuser. Those arrested on criminal charges are brought before an independent judiciary. Following a determination by a judicial hearing that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal charge, the judge remands the defendant for trial. The court appoints attorneys for indigents only in cases of murder or other capital crimes. In other criminal cases that reach the appellate stage, the court will similarly appoint a lawyer to represent the accused if he was not previously represented or reappoint the defendant's earlier counsel if the appellant can no longer afford the lawyer's services. Due to the backlog of cases caused by a shortage of judges and facilities, up to 6 months can pass before those charged with serious offenses face trial in the High Court. With the exception of murder and foreign-born drug suspects, the courts grant most defendants bail while awaiting trial.

The judiciary, a part of the Eastern Caribbean legal system, is highly regarded and independent. Final appeal may be made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. There are no military or political courts.

There are no political prisoners.

f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The Constitution provides for protection from these abuses, and there were no reports of such actions. The law generally requires judicially issued warrants for searching homes, except in cases of hot pursuit. The Firearms Act of 1968 and the Drug Abuse Prevention Act No. 7 of 1992 contain other exceptions which give the police and security units legal authority to search persons and property without warrants in certain circumstances. In practice, police obtain warrants in the majority of cases before conducting any search.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the Government does not restrict these rights. There are four weekly newspapers and several newspapers which publish irregularly. One of the weeklies is affiliated with an opposition political party, but the three most widely circulated newspapers are independent and are frequently critical of the Government. The newspapers frequently carry press releases by the opposition parties, one of which regularly provides a weekly column expressing the opposition party's views.

Grenada has four radio stations. The main station is part of the Grenadian Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), a statutory body not under direct government control. Grenada's main television station is also part of the GBC. A privately owned television station began broadcasting in 1992, and a cable company began operating in the capital area with plans to expand eventually throughout the country. Throughout 1994 the television news often carried reports on opposition activities.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right to assemble for any peaceful purpose. Supporters of political parties meet frequently and hold public rallies; permits are required for the use of a public address system but not for public meetings themselves.

c. Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this provision.

d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country, and all citizens have the right to enter and leave the country, except in special circumstances as outlined in and limited by the 1986 Act to Restrict the Freedom of Movement of Certain Persons. This law allows the Minister for National Security to restrict travel out of Grenada by any person whose aims, tendencies, or objectives include the overthrow of the democratic and parliamentary system of government; it has not been invoked in the past few years. Anyone so restricted may appeal after 3 months to an independent and impartial tribunal. The Chief Justice appoints an accredited lawyer to preside over such a tribunal.

Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government

The Constitution provides for the right of citizens to change their government through elections to be held at least every 5 years. It provides that Parliament sit no longer than 5 years and that the Governor General call elections within 3 months of its dissolution. Grenadians held national elections in 1984 and 1990.

There are no restrictions in law or practice on participation by women in government and politics. Two of the 15 elected members of Parliament are women, as well as 2 of the 13 appointed senators, 1 of whom is Senate president. Women account for five of the nine permanent secretaries, the highest civil service position in each ministry; in addition, a woman is the Cabinet Secretary, the highest civil service position in the Government.

Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

Local human rights groups operate without government restriction, and the Government cooperates with visits from international human rights organizations.

Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based upon race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex, and the Government generally adheres to these provisions.


There is no evidence of official discrimination in health care, employment, or education. Women frequently earn less than men performing the same work; such wage differences are less marked for the more highly paid jobs. Knowledgeable women's rights monitors report that violence against women in Grenada is common and that most cases of spouse abuse go unreported. The police confirm that most cases of alleged abuse are not reported and others are settled out of court. Grenadian law stipulates a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment for a conviction of rape. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident.


The Social Welfare Division within the Ministry of Labour provides probationary and rehabilitative services to youths, day care services and social work programs to families, assistance to families wishing to adopt or foster children, and financial assistance to the three children's homes in Grenada run by private organizations.

The Government reported 47 cases of child abuse through September. The law provides for harsh penalties against those convicted of child abuse and disallow the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest.

People with Disabilities

The law does not protect job-seekers with disabilities from discrimination in employment, nor does it mandate provision of accessibility for public buildings or services. The National Council for the Disabled, which receives a small amount of financial assistance from the Government, was instrumental in placing visually impaired students into community schools, which in some cases previously were reluctant to accept them. The Council also approached architects to assist in construction of ramps at various hotels and public buildings, and ramps have already been installed at some hotels.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

All workers are free to organize independent labor unions. Labour Ministry officials estimate the percentage of the work force that is unionized to be between 20 and 25 percent. Union leaders play a significant role in the political process, and one labor leader serves in the Senate.

While workers in the private sector are free to strike at will, workers in the public sector must give advance notice. There were several incidents of industrial action including strikes in 1994, but all were short-lived and settled with the intervention of the Ministry of Labour. All unions were free of government control, and none received government financial support. All the major unions in Grenada belong to one umbrella labor federation, the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC), which holds annual conventions and determines some policies for member unions. The GTUC and its unions freely affiliate with regional and international trade union groups.

b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Workers are free to organize and to participate in collective bargaining. Legislation requires employers to recognize a union that represents the majority of workers in a particular business. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. If a complaint of discrimination arises, mechanisms exist to resolve it. After all avenues for resolving a complaint have been exhausted between union representatives and employers, both sides may agree to ask for the assistance of the Labour Commissioner. If the Labour Commissioner is unable to find a resolution to the impasse, the Minister of Labour may appoint an arbitration tribunal if both parties agree to abide by its ruling. The law requires employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination to rehire dismissed employees, but in most cases the employee accepts the option of compensation rather than return to work. No such cases took place in 1994.

Unions may organize and bargain anywhere in the country, including in export processing zones (EPZ's), which are not exempted from Grenada's labor legislation. However, the one unionized firm previously operating in an EPZ closed its Grenada-based operations.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution specifically prohibits forced labor, and there were no reports of it.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The statutory minimum age for employment of children is 16 years. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labour enforce this provision in the formal sector by periodic checks. Enforcement efforts in the informal sector are lax.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Legislation sets minimum daily wage rates for the agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors. Most recently revised in 1990, minimum wages vary from $4.80 (EC$13) per day for farm laborers to $556 (EC$1,500) per month for administrators. Most workers, including nonunionized ones, receive other benefits from their employers through the collective bargaining agreements reached with that firm's unionized workers. Even when these benefits are added to wages from a full-time minimum wage job, it is insufficient to provide a decent standard of living.

The law does not prescribe a set number of hours as the standard workweek, except for the public sector which is expected to work a 40-hour week Monday through Friday. The normal workweek in all sectors seldom exceeds 40 hours, although in the commercial sector this includes Saturday morning work.

The Government sets health and safety standards, but they are minimal, and the authorities do not effectively enforce them. Workers can remove themselves from dangerous workplace situations without jeopardy to continued employment.

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