Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Grenada: Update to GRD41543.E of 9 May 2003 on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Bill of 2001; domestic violence and police response (May 2003-June 2004)

Publisher Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 15 June 2004
Citation / Document Symbol GRD42739.E
Reference 2
Cite as Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Grenada: Update to GRD41543.E of 9 May 2003 on the implementation of the Domestic Violence Bill of 2001; domestic violence and police response (May 2003-June 2004), 15 June 2004, GRD42739.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/41501c0c15.html [accessed 20 April 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.

The information provided in this Request adds to that found in GRD41543.E of 9 May 2003 about the implementation of the Domestic Violence Bill as well as police response and support for victims of domestic violence.

The Director of the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic (LACC), a non-governmental organization that provides legal services, counselling, public education, research, and community outreach, provided the following information in an 8 June 2004 telephone interview.

While the Director could not comment on the status of domestic violence since April 2003, she did state that because Grenada was one of the last countries in the Caribbean to enact domestic violence laws, the country still does not have the proper infrastructure to support this legislation.

With regard to police response, the Director stated that according to an assessment of the police training program developed by the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA), although the police have become more sensitized to domestic violence as of June 2004, they still were not clear on their role in a domestic violence situation. The Director attributed this lack of understanding by the police to flaws in the domestic violence legislation. For example, there is no mandatory arrest order for perpetrators of domestic violence. This means that a police officer will not indict a perpetrator if the victim is hesitant to lay charges against her attacker. In a domestic dispute, many women hesitate to lay charges against their male partners, as they are often the sole source of income in the family. In addition, even if the perpetrator has been charged, there are no provisions in the law to keep the accused away from the family home if he is released on his own recognizance before a hearing.

National government and human rights reports have noted that domestic violence in Grenada remains an issue of serious concern and that incidents of violence against women are rarely reported (Freedom House 17 June 2003; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004; Grenada October 2003). Moreover, cases of domestic violence that were reported tended to be settled out of court (Freedom House 17 June 2003; Country Reports 2003 25 Feb. 2004). According to a government report entitled Crime Reduction Strategy for Grenada published in October 2003, the hesitation to report domestic violence could be attributed to the inadequate capacity and organization of services for victims (Grenada Oct. 2003).

In a March 2004 Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) news report covering International Women's Day in Grenada, the Grenada Association for Human Rights stated that the national government should do more to enforce the protection of women victims of domestic violence and prevent the marginalization of women across the country (10 Mar. 2004). In an April 2004 speech at a graduation ceremony for 41 new constables of the Royal Grenada Police Force, High Court Judge Justice Kenneth Benjamin stated that a substantial number of complaints to the police are related to domestic violence (Grenada Today 10 Apr. 2004).

Speaking on gender and family affairs issues during the September 2003 Throne Speech, the Governor General mentioned that a Domestic Violence Unit had been established within the Ministry of Tourism [now the Ministry of Social Development - see below] (Grenada 26 Sept. 2003). Specifically, the Domestic Violence Unit would provide assistance to victims, their families and perpetrators through counselling and support services (ibid.). Moreover, the Governor General stated that public awareness around domestic violence issues will continue and that a 24-hour helpline would be created in order to provide information and assistance to battered women (ibid.).

In light of the throne speech, the director of LACC claimed that as of September 2003, little progress had been made to increase the capacity of the Domestic Violence Unit (LACC 8 June 2004). According to the director, only one worker staffs the unit and many of its clients are referred to the LACC (ibid.). The Director also noted that while there is a child abuse hotline, she was unaware of the existence of a helpline for adult victims of domestic violence (ibid.).

In a January 2004 Throne Speech, the governor general, speaking about the government's plan for gender and family affairs in the coming year, explained that following a merger of the Ministry of Social Services and Housing and the Division of Gender and Family Affairs into one Ministry of Social Development, a review of all social services would be conducted in order to improve the delivery of these services (Grenada 9 Jan. 2004). The new Ministry of Social Development, approved by Cabinet on 12 January 2004 would address, among other things, domestic violence, childcare and protection, and family counselling services (Grenada Today 26 Jan. 2004).

Also in January 2004, the Ministry of Social Development, following up on an item from the throne speech, announced that Grenada would begin the process of reforming the country's domestic violence law in coordination with the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Family Law Reform Project (Grenada Today 31 Jan. 2004; Grenada 9 Jan. 2004). To increase public awareness around issues of family law and support for the planned reforms, a series of public consultations would be organized for various districts across the country in the first two weeks of February 2004 (Grenada Today 31 Jan. 2004). Subsequently, with support from the OECS Secretariat and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and technical assistance from international organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Gender Equity Fund, a one-day national consultation on the law reform project was planned for 17 February 2004 (ibid.). According to the LACC Director, the 17 February 2004 national consultation did take place and the next step in this process was to be a regional consultation of all nine member states of the OECS to be held on 17-18 June 2004 in Grenada (8 June 2004).

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.

References

Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). 10 March 2004. "Grenada: Human Rights Group Concerned About Lack of Human Rights for Women." (Dialog)

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. "Grenada." United States Department of State. Washington, DC. [Accessed 1 June 2004]

Freedom House. 17 July 2003. Freedom in the World 2003. "Grenada." [Accessed 1 June 2004]

Grenada. 26 January 2004. Government Press Releases 2004. "Ministry of Social Services, Gender and Family Affairs and Housing - Now Ministry of Social Development." [Accessed 3 June 2004]

____. 9 January 2004. "Throne Speech 2004." [8 June 2004]

____. October 2003. National Crime Committee. Crime Reduction Strategy For Grenada. [Accessed 1 June 2004]

____. 26 September 2003. "Throne Speech 2003." [Accessed 1 June 2004]

Grenada Today [St. George's]. 10 April 2004. "Forty-One New Police Officers." [Accessed 1 June 2004]

____. 31 January 2004. "Consultation to Reform Family and Domestic Violence Laws." [Accessed 1 June 2004]

Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic (LACC), St. Georges, Grenada. 8 June 2004. Telephone interview with the Director.

Additional Sources Consulted

Unsuccessful attempts to obtain information from the Domestic Violence Unit of the Ministry of Social Development.

Internet sites: Amnesty International, Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Commission of Women, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women's Rights (CLADEM), Royal Grenada Police Force, United Nations Women Watch, World News Connection/Dialog.

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.

Search Refworld

Countries