2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Grenada
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Author||Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor|
|Publication Date||24 May 2012|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Grenada, 24 May 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4fc75a9ad.html [accessed 23 November 2014]|
Grenada is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. In generally free and fair elections in July 2008, the National Democratic Congress won 11 of 15 seats in Parliament, and Tillman Thomas was sworn in as prime minister. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
Human rights problems included allegations of corruption, violence against women, and instances of child abuse.
The government took steps to punish security force members or other officials who committed abuses, and impunity was not perceived to be a problem.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed any political killings, but there were occasions where police killings occurred in the line of duty. The police Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in coordination with the Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP), fully investigates all such killings. After a DPP review, and in cases not involving criminal liability, they are referred to the coroner for an inquest.
In July a prison guard shot and killed a man who was allegedly breaching the fence at Her Majesty's Prison; the DPP concluded there was no criminal liability. In November the police killed a mentally unstable man who attacked an officer with a machete, in which the DPP also found no criminal liability. Both cases were referred to the coroner for further investigation. At year's end the CID, in coordination with the DPP, was investigating the December 26 death of a Canadian-Grenadian citizen whom police allegedly beat while in custody.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution and law prohibit such practices. However, young detainees claimed occasionally to family and friends that police mistreated them. At year's end the DPP was considering a CID report of an allegation by a complainant of potentially abusive treatment by police. Additional allegations of police mistreatment brought to the attention of the press did not result in complaints to the authorities.
Flogging, a legal form of punishment for sex crimes and assault, was not uncommon.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and detention center conditions did not meet international standards. Overcrowding was a serious problem. In the sole penitentiary, there were 411 prisoners, of whom four were women, held in space designed for 98 persons. Potable water supplied by the water utility normally was available in prison hallways but not in the cells. During the dry season, when the water supply is cut off on occasion, a tank serves as a back-up.
The prison maintained an education program for the inmates, employed a counselor to work with the prison population, and implemented the first phase of a program to work with young prisoners on their reinsertion into society.
Women were held in a separate section of the prison from men. There was no separate facility for juveniles.
Prisoners and detainees had access thrice weekly to visitors. They were permitted to conduct religious observances. Prisoners may raise complaints directly with prison authorities, through their lawyers, or through the government's Prison Visiting Committee. Prisoners relied on the Prison Welfare Officer to make contact with outside institutions.
The Prison Visiting Committee monitors prison conditions. While visits from independent nongovernmental observers would be welcome, there were no such requests during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution and law prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The country does not have a military. The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is headed by the police commissioner and encompasses the Coast Guard, the Special Service Unit, the Fire Fighting Unit, and other specialized units. The RGPF is supplemented by 254 rural constables. The RGPF generally was effective at responding to complaints and maintained a community policing program.
The police report to the minister for national security, who is also the prime minister. The police commissioner can discipline officers (up to the rank of sergeant) in cases of brutality with penalties that include dismissal. Only the Public Service Commission can discipline officers with the rank of inspector or above. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the RGPF, and the government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. In the case of deaths attributed to the RGPF, police conduct the investigations, which the DPP and the coroner review. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment While in Detention
The constitution and law permit police to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but they must bring formal charges within 48 hours, and this limit generally was respected. In practice detainees were provided access to a lawyer and family members within 24 hours. 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 the recommendation of the governor general.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence in practice.
The constitution and law provide for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.
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 law allows for a defense lawyer to be present during interrogation and to advise the accused how to respond or not to respond to questions. The accused has the right to confront his accuser and has the right of appeal. There are jury trials in the High Court only; trials are open to the public unless the charges are sexual in nature or a minor is involved.
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 appoints a lawyer to represent the accused if the defendant was not represented previously or reappoints earlier counsel if the appellant can no longer afford that lawyer's services. With the exception of foreign-born drug suspects or persons charged with murder, the courts granted most defendants bail while awaiting trial.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters. The civil court system encompasses a number of seats around the country at which magistrates preside over cases.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution and law prohibit such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
Status of Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution and law provide for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. The independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.
Censorship or Content Restrictions: The government did not penalize anyone for publishing items counter to government guidelines, but the media practiced occasional self-censorship. In July, local and regional media criticized the Media Workers Association of Grenada for stifling a story about an editor who was arrested for being verbally abusive to a magistrate. Some journalists avoided coverage of Wikileaks-sourced material as a result of legal or political uncertainties regarding its use.
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or credible reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could engage in the expression of views via the Internet, including by e-mail.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The constitution and law provide for freedom of assembly and association, and the government respected these rights in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State's 2010 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and law provide for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in the single instance where assistance was requested with regard to refugees. In that case, the government awaited a decision by UNHCR regarding a country for resettlement.
Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The government has no formal channels for providing protection to refugees or asylum seekers.
Section 3. Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The constitution and law provide citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections based on universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: The most recent general elections were held in July 2008, when the National Democratic Congress won 11 of the 15 seats in the House of Representatives, defeating the New National Party, which had governed for 13 years. The Organization of American States led a 25-member election observer mission, which deemed the elections free and fair.
Participation by Women and Minorities: Two women served in the House of Representatives. Three of the 13 appointed senators were women, including the president of the senate. Three female legislators served as ministers of government. In the civil service, women held 15 of the 19 most senior positions – permanent secretaries.
Section 4. Official Corruption and Government Transparency
Although the law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, the government did not implement the law effectively. Allegations continued to circulate of instances in prior years of corrupt practices by government officials.
Although the government appointed seven persons to a newly established Integrity Commission in 2009 and the commission opened an office, the commission was not operational by year's end.
Anticorruption laws require all public servants to report their income and assets, but the appropriate regulations had not been promulgated by year's end.
There are no laws mandating transparent reporting of political donations or limiting the amount of political donations from outside the country.
Although there is no law providing for public access to government information, citizens may request access to any information that is not deemed classified. However, statistics on government responsiveness to those requests were not available.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials often were cooperative and responsive to their views.
Government Human Rights Bodies: The ombudsman has authority to investigate complaints from persons who object to government actions they deem to be unfair, an abuse of power, illegal, discriminatory, or negligent. The ombudsman submitted his first annual report to Parliament in June stating that two 2010 cases involving formal investigations were resolved positively for the complainants. During the year citizens raised more than 81 cases with the ombudsman, and there were six pending from 2010.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination based on race, place of origin, political opinion, color, creed, or gender, and the government generally upheld these prohibitions.
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 15 years' imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Authorities referred 64 charges involving rape or related charges for prosecution, and the court convicted 53 persons during the year.
According to women's rights monitors, violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. In May, the Domestic Violence against Women Act entered into force, and the government launched a National Protocol on Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women. The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident. A shelter accommodating approximately 12 battered and abused women and their children operated in the northern part of the country, staffed by medical and psychological counseling personnel. Victims and persons seeking to report cases of abuse could contact the Ministry of Social Development and local ministry offices in three parishes and the island of Carriacou. However, domestic violence remained underreported as many women were economically dependent on the perpetrators.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there are no criminal penalties for it, although the government quantified it as a persistent problem. It is the responsibility of the complainant to bring a civil suit against an alleged harasser.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had access to contraception as well as obstetric and postnatal care. According to UN Population Fund estimates, 99 percent of births were attended by skilled health personnel and 52 percent of women aged 15-49 used a modern method of contraception. Women and men had equal access to reproductive health care.
Discrimination: Women generally enjoyed the same rights as men, and there was no evidence of official discrimination in employment or education; however, women frequently earned less than men performing the same work. Due in part to factors like post-hurricane reconstruction, the poor economy, and high levels of unemployment, women worked in nontraditional fields such as carpentry and construction. Television and radio public service announcements continued to combat spousal abuse and raise women's awareness of their rights.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from birth in the country or, if abroad, by birth to a Grenadian parent upon petition. There is universal birth registration.
Child Abuse: During the year government social service agencies reported 138 cases of physical abuse, including 96 cases of sexual abuse. Two cases of incest went to court. Abused children were placed either in a government-run home or in private foster homes. The law stipulates penalties ranging from five to 15 years' imprisonment for those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest. The Social Welfare Division within the Ministry of Social Development provided probationary and rehabilitative services to youth, day-care services, and social work programs to families; assistance to families wishing to adopt or provide foster care to children; and financial assistance to the six children's homes run by private organizations.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: A statutory rape law applies when the victim is 16 years and under. Penalties are 15 years' imprisonment if the victim is less than 14 and five years' imprisonment if the victim is 14 to 16 years of age. No specific laws address child pornography; but the law prohibits the importation, sale, and public display of pornography. The criminal code prohibits sale and trafficking of girls for prostitution, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances, but it lacks similar prohibitions that apply to boys.
International Child Abduction: The government is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. For country-specific information see http://travel.state.gov/abduction/country/country_3781.html.
There were no reports of societal abuses or discrimination, including anti-Semitic acts. There was no organized Jewish community.
Trafficking in Persons
There were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country during the year.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law do not protect job seekers with disabilities from discrimination in employment. Although the law does not mandate access to public buildings or services, building owners increasingly incorporated disabled access into new construction and premises renovation. The government provided for special education throughout the school system; however, most parents chose to send their children to three special education schools operating in the country. Persons with disabilities had full access to the health-care system and other public services, faced no discrimination in access to information and communication, and suffered no restrictions on the right to vote or to participate fully in civic affairs. The government and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) continued to provide training and work opportunities for such persons. The Ministry of Social Services includes an office responsible for looking after persons with disabilities, as well as the Council for the Disabled, which reviews disability-related issues.
Approximately 8 percent of the citizens are descendants of individuals who came to the country from India as indentured servants, many of whom found themselves in slave-like conditions. Some complained of residual discrimination based on their origins, although most have intermarried with persons of European or African descent.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activities, providing penalties of up to 10 years' imprisonment. Police launched an investigation under this law into an allegation of nonconsensual sodomy. Society generally was intolerant of same-sex sexual conduct, and many churches condemned it. Members of sexual minorities generally did not acknowledge openly their sexual orientation. The Grenada Caribbean HIV/AIDS Program (GrenCHAP) participated on the National AIDS Council and served as an advocate for sexual minorities and at-risk populations.
There were no gay pride events. There were no reports of violence linked to sexual orientation. There were no reports that sexual orientation affected employment, housing, statelessness, or access to education or health care. However, persons who were subjected to rumors regarding their sexual orientation complained that their livelihoods were affected.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
It was not uncommon for persons to be shunned by family members or face discrimination in housing and employment when their HIV-positive status became known. According to civil society contacts, fear of disclosing their status prevented some persons with HIV/AIDS from seeking services provided by government or civil society. While the government acted to ameliorate concerns by the public about persons with HIV, it moved less quickly to finalize policies in draft or to act on recommendations provided by the HIV-positive community. The government encouraged citizens to be tested and to get treatment. NGOs such as GrenCHAP and Hope Pals provided counseling to those affected by HIV/AIDS, made recommendations to the government on outreach and policy, and urged local companies to educate themselves and their workers about HIV/AIDS in the workplace and not to discriminate against employees with the disease.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The constitution and law allow workers to form and join independent labor unions, to conduct legal strikes, and to participate in collective bargaining. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and it requires employers to recognize a union that represents the majority of workers in a particular business. The law does not oblige employers to recognize a union formed by their employees if the majority of the workforce does not belong to the union. Labor law covers all categories of employees, including domestic workers and migrants.
While essential workers have the right to strike, the labor minister may refer disputes involving essential services to compulsory arbitration. The government's list of essential services is broad and includes services not regarded by the International Labor Organization as essential.
The government generally enforced labor laws in practice. While employers can be forced to rehire employees if a court finds they were discharged illegally, there were no such cases during the year. Employers generally recognized and bargained with unions even if a majority of the workforce did not belong to it. In December, workers called a strike against the brewery, and the employer undertook a cooling off period. At year's end the matter remained unresolved.
While unions were independent of government, some were affiliated with political parties. Although security forces have been deployed to the site of union-led demonstrations, there were no threats or violence against union leaders and their members by the government or employers, and no cases of government interference in union activities
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The government prohibits forced or compulsory labor, excepting court-ordered labor, penal labor, labor while a member of a disciplined force, or in the context of a public emergency, and there were no reports that such practices occurred.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The statutory minimum age for employment of children is 16 years. Employment for minors under 18 is permitted so long as certain conditions related to hours, insurance and working conditions set forth in the Labor Code are met. It was common practice for children to undertake summer jobs or for school-leavers to take on part-time employment following secondary school graduation at age 16.
Inspectors from the Labor Ministry enforced the minimum age provision in the formal sector through periodic checks. Enforcement in the informal sector was insufficient, particularly for family farms. The Labor Ministry inspected family farms for child workers upon receipt of child labor allegations.
The labor code does not specifically prohibit the sale or trafficking of children for exploitive labor. Also see the Department of Labor's 2010 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
d. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The minimum wage schedules set pay by occupation and, in the case of agricultural workers, by sex. The minimum wage for domestic workers, for example, was EC$400 ($148) monthly, while that for a security guard was EC $4.00 ($1.48) per hour.
The law provides for a 40-hour maximum workweek. The law does not stipulate rest periods, although no one can be asked to work for longer than five hours consecutively without a one-hour meal break. In addition, domestic employees may not, by law, be asked to work longer than a 10-hour period without at least two hours of breaks for meals and rest periods. The law requires a premium for work above the standard workweek and prohibits excessive or compulsory overtime. The law mandates paid annual vacation – two weeks in the first year and three weeks thereafter.
The government sets health and safety standards. Workers have the right to remove themselves from dangerous workplace situations without jeopardy to their continued employment.
Enforcement, including wages, hours, occupational safety, and other elements, is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor's seven labor inspectors. Inspectors examined about 75 percent of eligible sites. The government effectively enforced minimum wages. No violations of the law concerning working hours were brought to the notice of government authorities. The government's enforcement of occupational health and safety standards was inconsistent. The government informally encouraged business to rectify violations without resorting to formal channels for compliance, which have never been used. Labor officers worked with employers in sectors like energy, agriculture, and construction in order to promote appropriate clothing, health checks, and pesticide safety.
During the year the National Insurance Scheme received 501 claims of workplace injury. There were no workplace deaths reported.