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U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Grenada

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 30 January 1994
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1993 - Grenada, 30 January 1994, available at: [accessed 1 June 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 has a parliamentary form of government, with a Governor General as titular Head of State. When no political party received a clear majority in elections held on March 13, 1990, the Governor General appointed Nicholas Brathwaite as Prime Minister, who successfully formed a majority Government around National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentarians. The next elections must be held by March 1995.

The 750-member Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is responsible for maintaining law and order. It is controlled by and responsive to civilian government authorities.

Grenada has a small free market economy based upon agriculture and tourism. Over the past several years, economic growth dropped to 3 percent, and the country experienced persistent fiscal imbalances. This forced the Government to initiate a structural adjustment program in February 1992, aspects of which remained unpopular.

Grenadians enjoy a wide range of civil and political rights. Human rights problems included allegations of police brutality in the course of criminal investigations, incidents of domestic violence against women, and abuse of children.


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 1993. The press occasionally reported individual claims of police brutality, some of which arose following the complainants' alleged attempts to resist arrest. Officers under the supervision of the Police Commissioner investigated a few complaints, but no results were released. Claims deemed valid can result in disciplinary action by the Police Commissioner, which can include dismissal from the force. No cases of police brutality were brought before the courts in 1993. Claims can also be pursued in the courts. The Police Commissioner has spoken out strongly against police use of unlawful force.

A citizen prison visitation committee formed in 1990 to monitor conditions at Grenada's Richmond Hill Prison, especially in regard to the treatment accorded Bernard Coard and accomplices convicted of the 1983 murder of Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. It last met in March 1993 and found no evidence of inhuman treatment of prisoners. The committee plans no further visits.

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, police have the right to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but formal charges must be brought within 48 hours. This time limit is adhered to in practice. If the detainee is not charged within this time, he must be released. In 1993 no one was detained for political reasons.

The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of detention within 15 days after arrest on a criminal charge. Formal arraignment or release of the arrestee must be decided within 60 days. These procedures were generally followed. There is a functioning system of bail, although those charged with capital offenses are not eligible. Persons charged with treason may be accorded bail only upon recommendation of the Governor General.

Exile is not practiced.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The right to a fair public trial is provided for by law and is observed in practice. There is a presumption of innocence, and individuals are protected against self-incrimination. Police are required to explain a person's rights upon arrest, and 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. An accused has the right to confront his accuser.

Those arrested on criminal charges are brought before an independent judiciary; the court will appoint 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. Following a determination by a judicial hearing that there is sufficient evidence to substantiate a criminal charge, the defendant is remanded for trial. 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 are brought to trial before the High Court. With the exception of murder and foreign-born drug suspects, most defendants are granted bail while awaiting trial.

Grenada rejoined the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States' (OECS) judicial system in 1991. By doing so, the Grenada Supreme Court, which had been instituted in 1979 as the highest judicial authority with jurisdiction over Grenadians, ceased to exist for that function. It is now the Supreme Court of Grenada and the West Indies Associated States. Under the OECS system, appeals may be made to the Privy Council in London.

There are no political prisoners.

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

There were no reports of these types of arbitrary interference. Judicially issued warrants for searching homes are normally required by law except in cases of hot pursuit. Other exceptions are contained in the Firearms Act of 1968 and the Drug Abuse Prevention Act No. 7 of 1992, which give the police and security units legal authority to search persons and property without warrants in certain circumstances. In practice, warrants are obtained in the majority of cases before a search is conducted.

Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

a. Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech and press is provided for by the Constitution and is freely exercised. There are four weekly newspapers and several newspapers which publish irregularly. One 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 provided a weekly column expressing its 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. There is no formal policy on paid political broadcasts. Throughout 1993, however, the television news often carried reports on opposition activities.

b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

Grenadians enjoy 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

All groups enjoy freedom of religion. The Roman Catholic and Anglican faiths predominate.

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

There is freedom of movement within Grenada, 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, presided over by an accredited lawyer chosen by the Chief Justice.

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 free and fair elections to be held at least every 5 years. It provides that Parliament sit no longer than 5 years and that elections be called within 3 months of its dissolution. Grenadians held national elections in 1984 and 1990. The political system is not dominated by any particular ethnic group, nor are there any restrictions that limit participation of any elements of the population. 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 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


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 activists report that violence against women in Grenada is common and that most cases of spouse abuse go unreported to police authorities. 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 Department of Women's Affairs circulated for review by concerned groups throughout the country model legislation on equal opportunity and treatment in employment which was proposed by the Caribbean Community Secretariat. The model legislation has since been submitted to the Ministry of Legal Affairs for appropriate redrafting. The legislation seeks to provide remedies against discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status, and pregnancy in employment, education, and the provision of goods, services, and facilities. It also seeks to confer obligations on spouses to maintain each other and on parents to maintain minor children. In addition, the model legislation provides for attachment of earnings in cases where a respondent fails to comply with a legal maintenance order. The Department of Women's Affairs also began a "gender education program" to better the welfare of women through economic and self-improvement programs.


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. In 1991 the Government passed the "Child is a Child" Act granting equal status under the law to children born out of wedlock. This Act is particularly important in cases of inheritance rights following the death of natural fathers.

In 1992 the Ministry of Education and the Labour Ministry's Office of Social Affairs, in association with several nongovernmental organizations (NGO's), conducted a comprehensive children awareness program which brought to light incidents of child abuse in society. Grenadian laws provide for harsh penalties against those convicted of child abuse and, in 1993, the Government passed a law disallowing the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest. In October the National Coalition on the Rights of the Child, comprised of government ministries and NGO's, was formed as part of a regional initiative to implement the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.

People with Disabilities

Job-seekers with disabilities are discriminated against, except for those with unique and marketable skills. 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. There are no accessibility ramps into public buildings for persons using wheelchairs. The Council has lobbied Government to pass a law requiring such access, and the Government is studying draft legislation to that effect. The Grenada Society of the Blind sponsors a retail outlet for wicker and handicraft items produced by disabled individuals.

Section 6 Worker Rights

a. The Right of Association

Workers are free to organize independent labor unions. Labor 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 1993, but all were short-lived and settled with the intervention of the Ministry of Labour. All unions were free of government control, and none was given 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 compels 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 for attempting 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. While employers found guilty of antiunion discrimination are required to rehire dismissed employees, in most cases the employee accepts the option of compensation rather than return to work, citing possible further problems with the employer. No such cases took place in 1993, however.

Unions may organize and bargain anywhere in the country, including in the one export processing zone (EPZ), which is not exempted from Grenada's labor legislation. However, no EPZ firm is presently unionized; the one firm previously unionized has since shut down its Grenada-based operations.

c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution specifically prohibits forced labor, and no such instances were reported in 1993.

d. Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The statutory minimum age for employment of children, 16 years, is enforced in the formal sector by periodic checks made by inspectors from the Ministry of Labour. Enforcement efforts in the informal sector are lax.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Legislated minimum daily wage rates, most recently revised in 1990, are set for the agricultural, industrial, and commercial sectors. Minimum wages for workers vary according to profession; for farm laborers it is $4.80-5.20 (EC$13-14) per day and $31.50 (EC$85) per day for masons. Hotel worker wages vary from $148-259 (EC$400-700) per month for housekeepers to $444-556 (EC$1,200-1,500) 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, but even when these benefits are added to wages from a full-time minimum wage job, it is barely enough 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. However, the normal workweek in all sectors seldom exceeds 40 hours, although in the commercial sector this includes Saturday morning work. Health and safety standards set by the Government are minimal and not effectively enforced. Laws on working conditions and their enforcement apply equally to the EPZ.

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