2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Saint Lucia
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||3 March 2017|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, 2016 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - Saint Lucia, 3 March 2017, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/58ec89d913.html [accessed 18 January 2018]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
Saint Lucia is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy. In generally free and fair elections on June 6, the United Workers Party (UWP) won 11 of the 17 seats in the House of Assembly, defeating the previously ruling Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP). UWP leader Allen Chastanet became prime minister.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
The most serious human rights problems included long delays in investigating reports of unlawful police killings, abuse of suspects and prisoners by the police, and human trafficking.
Other human rights problems included continued postponements of trials and sentencing, violence against women, child abuse, and discrimination against persons based on their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Although the government took limited steps to prosecute officials and employees who committed abuses, the procedure for investigating police officers was lengthy, cumbersome, and often inconclusive.
Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
An inquest was convened on May 27 to review five killings allegedly committed by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force under "Operation Restore Confidence" in Vieux Fort in 2011. The inquest determined that in the case of three of the victims – John Baptiste McFarlane, Allan Louisy, and Mitchel Cadette – the killings were unlawful. In the case of Myron Dupal, the jury returned an open verdict, which permits the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to indict. In the case of Kevin Ferdinand, the jury found death "by misadventure." The cases awaited a newly appointed acting DPP's decision on whether to indict any of the unnamed police officers.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices, but prisoners and suspects continued to complain of physical abuse by police and prison officers. Civil society reported that police assaulted persons under arrest either during the arrest or while in custody at the initial detention center.
From July 2015 to July 2016, citizens filed 118 complaints against the police, most of which were for abuse of authority. Limited information was available regarding official investigations of complaints from earlier years pending in various stages of review. The DPP is responsible for filing charges in such cases but was unable to monitor their progress due to limited resources. Although the government sometimes asserted that it would launch independent inquiries into allegations of abuse, the lack of information created a perception among civil society and government officials of impunity for the accused officers.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Conditions in the Bordelais Correctional Facility and police station jails generally met international standards, although the prison was somewhat overcrowded. That facility, which has a capacity of 500 inmates, held 559 inmates in July.
Administration: The cabinet appoints a Board of Visiting Justices to hear complaints from prisoners. That board investigates credible allegations of inhuman conditions, but there were no such complaints during the year. Inmates are also able to meet weekly with the director of corrections and his subordinates to discuss prison conditions.
Independent Monitoring: The Board of Visiting Justices is supposed to conduct health and welfare inspections, but it did not do so during the year. According to the director of corrections, outside human rights groups were welcome to visit the prison.
Improvements: The director of corrections reported improvements over the past year: the prison refurbished the CCTV system that allows guards to monitor virtually every room in the facility, and the Intelligence Unit, tasked with finding contraband and investigating inmate disputes, increased its collection capabilities. Prisoners were allowed to have contact visits with family and friends and have access to a variety of educational programming and technical skills training. In addition, the onsite farm expanded cultivation efforts and provided most of the vegetables and herbs used in the facility's kitchen. Prison officials began regular recreational activities for inmates.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The Royal St. Lucia Police Force has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order within the country and reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Justice, and National Security. The Criminal Investigations Division investigates internal affairs and allegations against officers and refers cases to the DPP for review and, if authorities file charges, prosecution.
The Internal Police Complaints Unit and a Police Complaints Commission takes complaints from members of the public. The Internal Police Complaints Unit is required by law to record complaints on all cases, and the officer in charge of discipline forwards a status report, which is published in the force orders for the information of all police officers. A special unit of three police officers assigned to assist the commission investigated criminal complaints. A team of seven police headed by the assistant superintendent investigated all other public complaints for the ranks of inspector to constable. The Public Service Commission investigated public complaints about senior police officials.
There was limited progress in the inquests and other investigations into the multiple killings during 2010 and 2011 allegedly by officers associated with an ad hoc task force as part of "Operation Restore Confidence" (see section 1.a.). The Caribbean Community's Implementing Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) concluded an investigation into the killings in 2014, but their report was not released publicly. In 2015 former prime minister Kenny Anthony revealed that the report concluded that "the blacklist or death lists" referenced by media, human rights organizations, victims' families, and citizens did exist; that "all the shootings reviewed were 'fake encounters' staged by the police to legitimize their actions"; that weapons were "planted on the scene of the shootings"; and that a number of the shootings were done by police officers but were listed in murder statistics as attributable to unknown assailants. He said the task force operated in "an environment of impunity and permissiveness designed to achieve the desired results." The then prime minister added, "The investigators also reported that in the course of the investigation, some senior officers did not cooperate with them." In response to the IMPACS report, the government established a "use of force" policy for the Royal St. Lucia Police Force and conducted human rights training for them.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the police, but there were continued reports of impunity. Although there are government mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption, these mechanisms were not effective in practice. For instance, although authorities referred many cases for investigation and inquests, prosecutions rarely resulted, and cases remained nominally under investigation for years. Victims' families have six months to initiate civil proceedings in the case of unlawful killing by the police, but many families were unaware of their rights or the limited timeframe. Lack of adequate staffing in the criminal justice system (prosecutors and judges), significant delays in the judicial system, the reluctance of witnesses to testify, the lack of a witness or victim protection program, and strong public and political support for the police contributed to the overall inability of the government to address allegations in a timely or effective manner.
Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees
The constitution stipulates that authorities must apprehend persons openly with warrants issued by a judicial authority and requires a court hearing within 72 hours of detention. Authorities allowed detainees prompt access to counsel and family. There is a functioning bail system.
Pretrial Detention: Prolonged pretrial detention continued to be a problem. Those charged with serious crimes often spent from six months to six years in pretrial detention.
Detainee's Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: The law entitles detainees or arrested persons to challenge in court the legal basis or arbitrary nature of their detention. If the court finds the person was detained unlawfully, the detainee is entitled to prompt release, compensation, or both.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.
Defendants enjoy the right to a presumption of innocence; prompt and detailed information about charges; a fair and public trial without undue delay; personal presence at their own trial; communication with an attorney of their choice; adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense; free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals; access to government-held evidence; challenge of prosecution or plaintiff witnesses and presentation of one's own witnesses and evidence; freedom from being compelled to testify or confess guilt; and appeal. Attorneys are not provided at public expense to defendants who cannot pay unless the charge is murder. The law extends the above rights to all defendants.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
There is an independent, impartial judiciary in civil matters where one can bring lawsuits seeking damages for a human rights violation. Individuals and organizations cannot appeal adverse domestic decisions to regional human rights courts for a binding decision. The country is a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, however, and individuals and organizations can present petitions to the commission.
f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and press.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority. According to the International Telecommunication Union, 52 percent of the population used the internet in 2015.
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 provides for the freedoms of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
c. Freedom of Religion
See the Department of State's International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The constitution and the law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.
The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced persons, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other persons of concern.
Protection of Refugees
Access to Asylum: The laws do not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status. UNHCR reported that the government issued certificates for four asylum seekers during the year, providing temporary protection from being returned to their country of origin and giving them access to public services. Refugees had access to medical care and uneven access to education. Individuals claiming refugee status had access to the courts and protection by law enforcement. The government assisted the safe, voluntary return of refugees to their home countries.
Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process
The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
Recent Elections: In elections on June 6, the United Workers Party (UWP) defeated the Saint Lucia Labor Party (SLP), winning 11 of 17 parliamentary seats. UWP leader Allen Chastanet, who previously had led the opposition, became prime minister. The previous administration did not invite international election observation missions but permitted election observers.
Participation of Women and Minorities: No laws prevent women or members of minority groups from voting, running for office, serving as electoral monitors, or otherwise participating in political life on the same basis as men or nonminority citizens. Two women were elected to the 17-seat parliament.
Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government
The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented these laws, but not always effectively. The 2015 public procurement and asset disposal bill is designed to strengthen anticorruption laws. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year.
Corruption: Media raised allegations of corruption concerning the sale of diplomatic passports, in particular the former SLP administration's appointment of Walid Ahmed Juffali, a Saudi national, as the country's permanent representative to the International Maritime Organization.
In July the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal reinstated a previously dismissed claim against Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, alleging breach of trust and misfeasance in public office. A judge had dismissed the case in 2015 on the basis that the attorney general did not have standing to bring the claim. In 2013 the attorney general initially filed the claim against Chastanet alleging that during the 2011 general elections as then government minister and candidate for the UWP, Chastanet was involved in the expenditure of more than 102,000 East Caribbean dollars (XCD) ($38,000) of public funds for personal and political benefit.
The parliamentary commissioner, auditor general, and Public Services Commission are responsible for combating corruption. Parliament can also appoint a special committee to investigate specific allegations of corruption. These agencies did not collaborate with civil society. While the agencies were independent, lack of resources hampered their effectiveness.
Financial Disclosure: High-level government officials, including elected officials, were subject to annual disclosure of their financial assets to the Integrity Commission, a constitutionally established entity. While authorities do not make public the disclosure reports filed by individuals, the commission submits a report to parliament each year. The commission lacked sanctions to compel compliance with the law, and as a result compliance was low.
Public Access to Information: The law does not provide for public access to government information.
Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
The few domestic 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.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, which is punishable by 14 years' to life imprisonment. The law criminalizes spousal rape only when a couple is divorced, separated, or there is a protection order from the Family Court. The penalty for a husband or wife who commits the offense of rape upon the other is imprisonment for 14 years. Police and courts enforced laws to protect women against rape, but many victims were reluctant to report cases or press charges due to fear of stigma, retribution, or further violence. In addition, "roungement" – the practice of parents accepting monetary compensation to settle rape and sexual assault cases out of court – was commonly practiced. High unemployment rates among female heads of households are an incentivizing factor to accept a payout in these cases. Roungement is prohibited by law, but it was rarely prosecuted.
Sexual assault remained a problem, but often charges did not proceed due to the reluctance of victims to testify or participate in a trial. The government held a National Dialogue on Violence Against Women and Children, which included a four-part televised series to spread awareness about preventing rape, legal response to rape, and services and resources for victim assistance. The dialogue also identified gaps and produced recommendations to improve the government's ability to investigate and prosecute rape.
Domestic violence was also a significant problem. While police were willing to arrest offenders, the government prosecuted crimes of violence against women only when the victim pressed charges. Often victims were reluctant to press charges due to their financial dependence on the abuser. Shelters, a hotline, police training, and a national protocol were all used to deal with the problem, but the lack of financial security for the victim was one of the key impediments. The maximum amount of child support that the court can award a woman is $250 XCD ($93) per month per child. Police also faced resource challenges such as a lack of transportation, which can prevent them from responding to a call in a timely manner. The Saint Lucia Crisis Center, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) receiving government assistance, maintained a facility for battered women and their children and a hotline for support. The only residential facility for victims of domestic abuse, the Women's Support Center, also received government funding. The Women's Support Center employed a full-time counselor who also counseled nonresident victims through the Department of Gender Relations.
The Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development assisted victims. Authorities referred most of the cases to a counselor, and the police facilitated the issuance of court protection orders in some cases. The Department of Gender Relations ran a number of gender-based violence prevention programs in the schools and community-based groups.
The Family Court hears cases of domestic violence and crimes against women and children. The court can issue a protection order prohibiting an abuser from entering or remaining in the residence of a specified person. The court remands perpetrators to a batterers' intervention program for rehabilitation. The court employed full-time social workers to assist victims of domestic violence.
Occupation and tenancy orders provide certain residential rights to victims of domestic violence, including required rental payments by the respondent and protective orders.
The police had two vulnerable persons units to handle cases involving violence against women and children. These units worked closely with the Family Court and the Education, Innovation, Gender Relations and Sustainable Development Ministry's Department of Gender Relations and Department of Human Services and Family Affairs.
The Department of Gender Relations ran the Women's Support Center, which provided shelter, counseling, residential services, a 24-hour hotline, and assistance in finding employment. Various NGOs, such as the Saint Lucia Crisis Center and the National Organization of Women, also provided counseling, referral, education, and empowerment services. The crisis center assisted in cases of physical violence, incest, nonpayment of child support, alcohol and drug abuse, homelessness, custody, and visitation rights.
Sexual Harassment: The criminal code prohibits sexual harassment, but it remained a problem, as government enforcement was not an effective deterrent. The Department of Gender Relations continued an awareness program that provided training opportunities in workplaces and assisted establishments in creating policies and procedures on how to handle sexual harassment. As a result most cases of sexual harassment were handled in the workplace rather than prosecuted under the labor code.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The law requires equal pay for equal work. Women were underrepresented in the labor force, had higher levels of unemployment than men, and sometimes received lower pay, or faced additional informal hurdles gaining access to credit. Women's affairs come under the jurisdiction of the Department of Gender Relations, whose parent ministry is responsible for protecting women's rights in domestic violence cases and preventing discrimination against women, including ensuring equal treatment in employment.
Birth Registration: Children receive citizenship by birth to a parent with citizenship. Women can equally pass on their citizenship to their children, but the foreign husband of a Saint Lucian woman does not automatically receive Saint Lucian citizenship, unlike the foreign wife of a Saint Lucian man. Authorities provided birth certificates to parents without undue administrative delay.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a problem. The Department of Human Services and Family Affairs handled cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, and psychological abuse. Although the government condemned the practice, parents of sexually abused children sometimes declined to press sexual assault charges against the abuser in exchange for financial contributions toward the welfare of the victims. Nonetheless, courts heard some child sexual abuse cases and convicted and sentenced offenders.
The human services division provided services to victims of child abuse, including a home for severely abused and neglected children, counseling, facilitating medical intervention, finding foster care, providing family support services, and supporting the child while working with the police and attending court. The division involved itself also with public outreach in schools, church organizations, and community groups.
The Saint Lucia Crisis Center operated a hotline for families suffering from different forms of abuse. The government pays families for foster care, but the number of available foster families was insufficient.
The Catholic Church operated the Holy Family Home for abused and abandoned children, with space for up to 20 children referred to the center by police or social workers.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years for men and women, but 16 with parental consent.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Laws on sexual offenses cover rape, unlawful sexual connection, and unlawful sexual intercourse with children under 16. The age of consent is 16 years, but a consent defense can be cited if the victim is between 12 and 16. No defense of consent is allowed when the child is under age 12. The Counter-Trafficking Act prohibits forced labor or sex trafficking of children under age 18. There were limited indications that unorganized commercial sexual exploitation of children occurred. No separate law defines or specifically prohibits child pornography.
International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State's Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
There was no organized Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report.
Persons with Disabilities
The law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, or the provision of other state services. Government regulations require disabled access to all public buildings, but only a few government buildings had access ramps. The health ministry operated a community-based rehabilitation program in residents' homes. Physically and visually impaired children were mainstreamed into the wider student population. Separate schools were also available for persons with mental disabilities and for children with hearing or visual disabilities. Children with disabilities faced barriers in education, and there were few opportunities for such persons when they became adults. While there were no official reports of discrimination, employers generally did not make accommodations for workers with disabilities. Persons with disabilities have the right to vote and selected polling stations are accessible for mobility-impaired voters, but many polling stations were inaccessible.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under indecency statutes, and some same-sex sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years' imprisonment, and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. No legislation protects persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the indecency statutes and anal intercourse laws were rarely enforced, there was widespread social discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in the deeply conservative society. The few openly LGBTI persons faced daily verbal harassment. Civil society groups received reports that LGBTI persons were denied access to rental homes or were forced to leave rental homes and were denied jobs or left jobs due to a hostile work environment.
There were few reported incidents of violence or abuse during the year. Civil society representatives noted that LGBTI persons were reluctant to report incidents of violence or abuse due to fear of retribution or reprisal. There was no progress in the police investigation of the 2015 killing of 18-year-old Marvin Anthony Augustin, the circumstances of which suggested a hate crime against a gay male.
The country's sole LGBTI organization, United and Strong, conducted human rights training for selected police, customs, and correctional officers on both general and LGBTI-specific content.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There was widespread stigma and discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS. Civil society reported that health-care workers did not respect patient confidentiality with respect to HIV/AIDS status. The Ministry of Health provided sensitization training and workshops for health-care workers during the year.
Section 7. Worker Rights
a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining
The law specifies the right of most workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and strike. The law also prohibits antiunion discrimination, and workers fired for union activity have the right to reinstatement.
The law places restrictions on the right to strike by members of the police and fire departments, health services, and utilities (electricity, water, and telecommunications) on the grounds that these organizations provide "essential services." They must give 30 days' notice before striking. Once workers have given notice, authorities usually referred the matter to an ad hoc tribunal set up under the Essential Services Act. The government selects tribunal members, following rules to ensure tripartite representation. These ad hoc labor tribunals try to resolve disputes through mandatory arbitration.
The law provides effective remedies and penalties, but there were insufficient resources for investigation and prosecution of labor standards violations. A labor code adopted in 2012 further defined worker rights and increased penalties for violations. As of November the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labor had not established implementing regulations for the 2012 code.
The government generally respected freedom of association, while employers generally respected the right to collective bargaining. Workers exercised the right to strike and bargain collectively.
b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The government prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor and effectively enforced the prohibition. The eight labor inspectors looked for child and forced labor during their inspections, but resources were inadequate for prosecution of cases. Forced labor violations can result in fines of up to $5,000 XCD ($1,850), imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both. The Counter-Trafficking Act prohibits trafficking for forced labor, punishable by up to five years' imprisonment, fines of up to $100,000 XCD ($37,000), or both. Penalties that allow for imposition of fines were not sufficiently stringent to deter violations. Although there were reports of forced labor in the past, there were no reports of forced labor during the year.
Also see the Department of State's Trafficking in Persons Report.
c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
The law provides for a minimum legal working age of 15, once the child has finished the school year. The minimum legal age for industrial work is 18. The law provides special protections for workers younger than 18 regarding working conditions and prohibits hazardous work, although there are no specific restrictions on working hours for those under 18. There is no comprehensive list of what constitutes hazardous work; however, the Occupational Health and Safety Act prohibits children under age 18 from working in industrial undertakings, including using machinery and working in extreme temperatures. Children ages 15 to 18 need a parent's permission to work.
The Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labor is responsible for enforcing statutes regulating child labor. These laws were effectively enforced, and the penalties and inspections were adequate.
There were no formal reports of violations of child labor laws. Child labor was uncommon (see section 6, Children).
Also see the Department of Labor's Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
d. Discrimination With Respect to Employment and Occupation
The law and regulations prohibit discrimination regarding race, color, sex, religion, national extraction, social origin, ethnic origin, political opinion or affiliation, age, disability, serious family responsibility, pregnancy, marital status, or HIV/AIDS, but not sexual orientation or gender identity. The law prohibits termination of employment for sexual orientation. Civil society received reports of LGBTI persons being denied jobs or leaving jobs due to a hostile work environment. There are no specific penalties for discrimination, but discrimination is covered under the general penalties section of the labor code equaling one-year's imprisonment, a fine of $5,000 XCD ($1,850), or both. The government did not penalize any company or person for discrimination during the year. No formal complaints of discrimination were made to the ministry.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
No national minimum wage is in effect. The government's Statistics Department calculated the poverty income level in 2011 as $3,320 XCD ($1,230) per year. A national poverty assessment conducted in 2005/06 found that 29 percent of the population fell below the poverty line.
The legislated workweek is 40 hours with a maximum of eight hours per day. Overtime hours are at the discretion of the employer and the agreement of the employee. Pay is time and a half for work over eight hours and double for work on Sundays and public holidays. Monthly paid workers are entitled to a minimum of 14 paid vacation days after one year. Workers paid on a daily or biweekly schedule have a minimum of 14 vacation days after 200 working days. Special legislation covers work hours for shop assistants, agricultural workers, domestic workers, and workers in industrial establishments. Labor laws, including occupational health and safety standards, apply to all workers whether in the formal or informal sectors.
The government generally enforced labor laws. The labor code provides penalties for violations of labor standards of up to $10,000 XCD ($3,700) or two years' imprisonment. The ministry's labor commissioner is charged with monitoring violations of labor law. Employers generally were responsive to ministry requests to address labor code violations, and authorities rarely levied fines. Eight compliance officers monitored compliance with pension standards and standards governing terminations, vacation and sick leave, contracts, and hours of work. There were no reported violations of wage laws. Labor unions did not routinely report such violations, and most categories of workers received much higher wages based on prevailing market conditions. There were no reported workplace fatalities or major accidents.
The government sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that are current and appropriate. There was one OSH inspector and one OSH consultant; the eight labor inspectors also assisted with occupational and safety standard inspections. The number of inspectors was not adequate to enforce compliance, but the Ministry of Infrastructure, Ports, Energy, and Labor had an active OSH compliance program and closed multiple offices during the year for failing to meet OSH standards. Workers could remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in this situation. OSH violations most commonly occurred in government offices and call centers. The ministry reported that workers in the construction sector sometimes faced hazardous working conditions. Most overtime and wage violations occurred in this sector. The government does not legally define or collect statistics on the informal economy.