Political Rights: 1
Civil Liberties: 2
Status: Free
Population: 100,000
GNI/Capita: $3,500
Life Expectancy: 71
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (53 percent), Anglican (13.8) percent, other Protestant (33.2) percent
Ethnic Groups: Black (82 percent), mulatto (13 percent), European and East Indian (5 percent)
Capital: St. George's


Overview

Parliamentary elections held in November 2003 saw incumbent prime minister Keith Mitchell reelected amidst accusations that he made payments to public sector workers in exchange for their support. Mitchell's New National Party (NNP) gained a bare minimum of seats in the legislature. Meanwhile, the country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission had not yet made a final report to the government by November 2003 regarding the assassination of a former prime minister and his colleagues in the 1980s.

Grenada, a member of the Commonwealth that gained independence from Britain in 1974, includes the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. Maurice Bishop's Marxist New Jewel Movement seized power in 1979. In 1983, Bishop was murdered by New Jewel hard-liners Bernard Coard and Hudson Austin, who took control of the country in the name of the People's Revolutionary Government (PRG). A joint U.S.-Caribbean military intervention removed the PRG. In 1986, Coard and 18 others were sentenced to death; 2 were pardoned and 17 had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Prime Minister Keith Mitchell of the NNP was reelected by a narrow margin in voting held on November 27, 2003. The elections, deemed to be free, were called seven months early. The NNP won 8 seats, down from the 15-seat sweep of the 1999 elections, while the National Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Tillman Thomas, won 7 seats. The Grenada United Labor Party (GULP), the Good Old Democracy Party (GODP), and the Grenada Renaissance Party (GRP) were unsuccessful.

In the run-up to the 2003 elections, the Mitchell government was accused of garnering voter support by paying public workers retroactive payments. Discrepancies in voter lists were also reported by the opposition. The electoral system was revitalized by the 2003 elections, where the NDP obtained 7 out of 15 parliamentary seats. After the crushing defeat suffered by Grenada's opposition parties in the 1999 elections, the parties' role as alternatives in future elections was seen as seriously in doubt.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was formally inaugurated in September 2001, has a mandate to investigate violence from the period from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. The commission is expected to review the convictions of the leaders of the former PRG for their roles in the 1983 assassination of former prime minister Bishop and his cabinet colleagues. As of November 2003, it had not yet presented its final report to the government. In October, Prime Minister Mitchell announced that the Grenadian public would decide the fate of the "Grenada 17" accused of the murders.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties

Citizens are able to change their government through democratic elections. The 2003 parliamentary elections were considered free, with some allegations of voter list manipulation and government pandering. The bicameral parliament consists of the 15-seat House of Representatives and the 13-seat Senate, to which the prime minister appoints 10 senators and the opposition leader, 3. The British monarchy is represented by a governor-general.

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 privately owned corporation, with a minority government share, owns the principal radio and television stations. In addition, there are nine privately owned radio stations, one privately owned television station, and a privately owned cable company. All of the media are independent of the government and regularly report on all political views. There is free access to the Internet.

Citizens of Grenada generally enjoy the free exercise of religious beliefs. There are no official restrictions on academic freedom.

Constitutional guarantees regarding the right to organize political, labor, or civic groups are respected. Workers have the right to organize and to bargain collectively. Numerous independent labor unions include an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the workforce. All unions belong to the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC), which is represented in the Senate. A 1993 law gives the government the right to establish tribunals empowered to make "binding and final" rulings when a labor dispute is considered of vital interest to the state. The GTUC claimed the law was an infringement on the right to strike.

The independent and prestigious judiciary has authority generally respected by the 782-member Royal Grenada Police Force. There are no military or political courts. In 1991, Grenada rejoined the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States court system, with the right of appeal to the Privy Council in London. Detainees and defendants are guaranteed a range of legal rights that the government respects in practice. There is a substantial backlog of six months to one year for cases involving serious offenses, the result of a lack of judges and facilities. Like many Caribbean island nations, Grenada has suffered from a rise in violent, drug-related crime, particularly among increasingly disaffected youth. Prison conditions are poor, though they meet minimum international standards and the government allows human rights monitors to visit. Flogging is still legal, but it is rarely used, and then primarily as a punishment for sex crimes and theft cases.

There are no significant minority issues.

Women are represented in the government, though in greater numbers in the ministries than in parliament. No official discrimination takes place, but women generally earn less than men for equal work. Domestic violence against women is common. Police say that most instances of abuse are not reported and others are settled out of court. Child abuse remains a significant issue.

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