Freedom in the World 2011 - Grenada
|Publication Date||21 June 2011|
|Cite as||Freedom House, Freedom in the World 2011 - Grenada, 21 June 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e00a077c.html [accessed 30 May 2015]|
Capital: St. George's
Political Rights Score: 1 *
Civil Liberties Score: 2 *
In 2010, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas of the National Democratic Congress continued to grapple with the effects of the global economic crisis and faced difficult choices regarding foreign investment. In August, a state appellate court in the United States cleared former deputy prime minister Gregory Bowen of any wrongdoing in the cancellation of the drilling and oil exploration rights of an American investor in Grenada. Additionally, a controversial maritime border treaty with Trinidad was concluded in April, which the Thomas government hopes will boost oil and gas exploration in Grenadian waters.
Grenada gained independence from Britain in 1974. Maurice Bishop's Marxist New Jewel Movement seized power in 1979, creating a People's Revolutionary Government (PRG). In 1983, Bishop was murdered by New Jewel hard-liners Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin, who took control of the country. However, a joint U.S.-Caribbean military intervention quickly removed the PRG and set the country on a path toward new elections. In 1986, Coard and 18 others were sentenced to death; subsequently, 2 of the 19 were pardoned, and the rest – who became known as the Grenada 17 – had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. In 2006, an additional 4 of the 17 were released. In February 2007, the London-based Privy Council ruled that the same findings that had invalidated the death sentences also rendered the life sentences unconstitutional. The 13 remaining inmates received reduced sentences in June 2007, and 3 were immediately freed. The last prisoners were released in September 2009.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of the New National Party (NNP) ruled Grenada from 1995 to 2008, when his party lost parliamentary elections to the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC). The NDC captured 11 seats in the 15-member House of Representatives, leaving the NNP with just 4. Tillman Thomas, the NDC leader, was sworn in as prime minister in July 2008.
Grenada enjoys greater economic stability than some neighboring countries, and a report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2010 found that the country had made considerable progress in realizing its economic program. Despite certain levels of recovery, Grenada's economy remained in recession in 2010 as the country continued to struggle with the effects of the global financial crisis. In the summer, the government refused to provide a Swedish development company with public financing for a massive tourism project, which would have created 4,000 new jobs. The government's denial of funding led to the opposition NPP to accuse the Thomas administration of incompetence.
Grenada concluded a maritime demarcation treaty with Trinidad in April, which may facilitate private investment in oil exploration. However, Grenada's link with foreign oil exploration investors remains a contentious issue. In August, a state appellate court in the United States cleared former deputy prime minister Gregory Bowen of any wrongdoing in the 2005 cancellation of American investor Jack Grynberg's oil exploration contract. Bowen's legal costs were assumed by Global Petroleum Group, a Russian company that was granted oil exploration rights in 2005 after the termination of Grynberg's contract.
Political Rights and Civil Liberties
Grenada is an electoral democracy. The 2008 parliamentary elections were considered generally free and fair, although there were allegations of voter-list manipulation. The bicameral Parliament consists of the directly elected, 15-seat House of Representatives, whose members serve five-year terms, and the 13-seat Senate, to which the prime minister appoints 10 members and the opposition leader names 3. The prime minister is typically the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives and is appointed by the governor-general, who represents the British monarch as head of state. Grenada's main political parties are the NDC, the NNP, the Grenada United Labor Party, and the People's Labor Movement.
Corruption remains a serious political issue in Grenada, and the country compares unfavorably with several of its neighbors. In August 2010, the NDC announced plans to request a special prosecutor to investigate multiple allegations of corruption in the Keith Mitchell administration, including accusations of corruption in relation to the decision to switch Grenada's diplomatic relations from Taiwan to China.
The right to free expression is generally respected. The media, including three weekly newspapers and several other publications, are independent and freely criticize the government. A private corporation, with a minority stake owned by the government, operates the principal radio and television stations. There are also nine privately owned radio stations, one privately owned television station, and a privately owned cable company. Access to the internet is unrestricted.
Citizens of Grenada generally enjoy the free exercise of religious beliefs, and there are no official restrictions on academic freedom.
Constitutional guarantees regarding freedoms of assembly and association are respected. Grenada has a robust civil society that participates actively in domestic and international discussions, although limited resources hamper its effectiveness.
Workers have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Labor unions represent an estimated 52 percent of the workforce, according to the Labor Ministry. All unions belong to the government-subsidized Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC). A 1993 law gives the government the right to establish tribunals empowered to make "binding and final" rulings when a labor dispute is considered to be of vital interest to the state; the GTUC has expressed concerns that the law is an infringement on the right to strike. Employers are not legally bound to recognize a union if less than half of its workers are unionized.
The independence and authority of Grenada's judiciary is generally respected by the Royal Grenada Police Force. Grenada is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States court system and a charter member of the Trinidad-based Caribbean Court of Justice, but the country still relies on the Privy Council in London as its final court of appeal. Detainees and defendants are guaranteed a range of legal rights, which the government respects in practice. However, a lack of judges and facilities has led to a backlog of six months to one year for cases involving serious offenses. The highly-publicized Grenada 17 case was repeatedly criticized for perceived political manipulation by the government, and Amnesty International classified the group as political prisoners. Grenada's prison conditions, though poor, meet minimum international standards, and the government allows visits by human rights monitors. Flogging is still legal but employed rarely, primarily as a punishment for sex crimes and theft.
Grenada has few significant minorities, although its gay population remains a target of discrimination.
Women are represented in the government, including both houses of parliament and the cabinet. Women generally earn less than men for equal work. Domestic violence against women is common, and most instances of abuse go unreported or are settled out of court.
* Countries are ranked on a scale of 1-7, with 1 representing the highest level of freedom and 7 representing the lowest level of freedom.