Barbados: Legal recourse and services available to children who are victims of domestic abuse
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||8 March 2007|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BRB102419.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Barbados: Legal recourse and services available to children who are victims of domestic abuse, 8 March 2007, BRB102419.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47d654442f.html [accessed 31 July 2015]|
A report published by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children indicates that in Barbados, "[c]orporal punishment is lawful in the home" (2005, 17; see also BANGO 5 Feb. 2007). According to Article 5(1) of Barbados' Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act,
Any person over the age of 16 years, having the custody, charge or care of any child under the age of 16 years, who willfully assaults, ill-treats, neglects, abandons or exposes such child or causes or procures such child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed in a manner likely to cause such child unnecessary suffering or injury to its health (including injury to, or loss of sight or hearing or limb or organ of the body and any mental derangement), shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of 120 [Barbados dollars (BBD) or approximately CAD71.23 (XE.com 8 Feb. 2007a)] and, in default of payment of such fine, to imprisonment for 1 year, or to imprisonment for 1 year or to both such fine and imprisonment, or on summary conviction to a fine of 24 [(BBD) or approximately CAD14.25 (XE.com 8 Feb. 2007b)] and, in default of payment of such fine, to imprisonment for 3 months or to imprisonment for 3 months, or to both such fine and imprisonment (Barbados 1998).
However, Article 4 of the same Act states that
Nothing in [the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act] shall be construed to take away or affect the right of any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a child to administer punishment to such child (Barbados 1998).
Information on the application of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
According to a representative of the Barbados Association of Non-governmental Organizations (BANGO), "a National Focal Point for Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Barbados" (June 2006), the Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act allows parents to "exercise reasonable punishment and this is distinguished from abuse, which is where the punishment is excessive" (ibid. 5 Feb. 2007; see also Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children 2005, 17). Furthermore, a report submitted to the United Nations (UN) by the Barbados government indicates that "[t]he Government and the people of Barbados do not view corporal punishment as torture, inhuman or degrading in and of itself but recognise that its improper use can amount to such and therefore it is permitted under strict regulation only" (Barbados 25 Sept. 2006, 59). According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005, although the Barbados government attempted to foster a greater degree of respect for "children's human rights and welfare, ... violence and abuse against children remained serious problems" (US 8 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5).
According to a representative of BANGO, the Child Care Board, a governmental agency, defends the rights of children, "monitor[s] child abuse and ... prosecute[s] child abusers in collaboration with the Police Department" (5 Feb. 2007; see also Yale Law School May 2005). In addition, the Child Care Board maintains child-care centres for children, investigates cases of child abuse, places children in foster care and provides counselling for children experiencing abuse (ibid.; US 8 March 2006, Sec. 5). The team of the Child Care Board consists of social workers and child care officers (BANGO 5 Feb. 2007). A report published on the Web site of the Yale Law School notes that since 1981, the Child Care Board has run a program that focuses on "child abuse," "provid[ing] training and staff development on issues surrounding abuse and neglect cases, including the relevant legislation" (May 2005). According to the Yale Law School report,
[t]he Child Care Board encourages individuals to report suspected child abuse and neglect. Individuals may call or go to the department in person to report a case of suspected abuse or neglect. Anonymity is guaranteed to all reporting individuals. Referrals are received from victims themselves, from schools, family members, doctors, police and individuals who have knowledge of such an offence. It should be noted, however, that the reporting of child abuse and neglect is not mandatory, though it is encouraged....
There is no formal Family Law Court in the Barbados. Child abuse and neglect cases are sometimes heard before courts, but for the purpose of prosecuting parent(s) in a criminal context. There is no indication that children are represented in any way in such criminal prosecutions, and the length of time taken for judicial hearings to actually take place is often very long, up to two years. (May 2005)
This information could not be corroborated among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
In 5 February 2007 correspondence with the Research Directorate, the BANGO representative provided the following information: According to him, corporal punishment is related to cultural background and the Child Care Board is confronted with this difficulty in its fight against corporal punishment. BANGO's representative added that corporal punishment is permitted in schools. This information could not be corroborated among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
No further information on the services offered to child victims of domestic abuse or on the results of the aforementioned protective measures could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
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 additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Barbados. 25 September 2006. United Nations Human Rights Committee. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 40 of the Covenant: Third Periodic Reports of States Parties Due on 11 April 1991 – Barbados. (CCPR/C/BRB/3).
_____. 1998. Prevention of Cruelty to Children Act. (Caribbean Community Secretariat)
Barbados Association of Non-governmental Organizations (BANGO). 5 February 2007. Correspondence sent by a representative.
_____. June 2006. "Backround of BANGO – Profile."
Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. 2005. Ending Legalised Violence Against Children: Report for Caribbean Regional Consultation.
United States (US). 8 March 2006. Department of State. "Barbados." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005.
XE.com. 8 February 2007a. "Universal Currency Converter."
XE.com. 8 February 2007b. "Universal Currency Converter."
Yale Law School. May 2005. "Representing Children Worldwide: 'Barbados'."
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), Caribbean Net News [Cayman Islands], Child Rights Information Network (CRIN), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Labour Organization (ILO), Representing Children Worldwide (RCW).