Grenada is a parliamentary democracy, with a Governor General as titular Head of State. In the January 1999 parliamentary elections, Prime Minister Keith Mitchell's New National Party (NNP) won all 15 seats and formed a new government. Subsequently, one Member of Parliament left the NNP and became the sole opposition member. The elections were conducted openly and fairly and were free of violence. The judiciary is independent.
The 755-member Royal Grenada Police Force is responsible for maintaining law and order. It is controlled by and responsive to civilian authorities. There were occasional allegations of abuse by the police.
Grenada has a free market economy based on agriculture and tourism. The projected annual real economic growth rate was 5.3 percent, compared with about 8 percent in 1999. Per capita gross domestic product was approximately $3,205.
The Government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in a few areas. Violence against women is common. Child abuse is a problem.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing
There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and there were no reported incidents of torture. Flogging, a legal form of punishment, is rare but has been used as punishment for sex crimes and theft cases.
There were no media reports of police brutality during the year. Allegations of police brutality are investigated internally by the police. The Police Commissioner can discipline officers in valid cases of brutality with penalties that may include dismissal from the force. The Police Commissioner has spoken out strongly against police use of unlawful force.
Prison conditions meet minimum international standards, and the Government permits visits by human rights monitors.
d. Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile
The law provides the police with the right to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but they must bring formal charges within 48 hours. The police adhere to this time limit in practice. If the police do not charge a detainee within 48 hours, they must release the person.
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.
In January the Government announced establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a broad mandate to examine events in the country from 1976 through 1991. The Commission's terms of reference specify the objective of recommending "general amnesty to certain persons who in the opinion of the Commission have given truthful information during the hearing of evidence." The Commission is expected to review the convictions of former Deputy Prime Minister Bernard Coard and other leaders of the former People's Revolutionary Government for their roles in the 1983 assassination of former Prime Minister Maurice Bishop and his cabinet colleagues. In 1986 a court convicted Coard and 18 other revolutionary leaders of murder and sentenced them to death; subsequently, 2 were pardoned, and the sentences of the remaining 17 commuted to life in prison. Of these, one person was granted parole to undergo medical treatment overseas. At year's end, the Commission was preparing to begin its work.
The Government does not use forced exile.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The judiciary, a part of the Eastern Caribbean legal system, is independent. Final appeal may be made to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. Those arrested on criminal charges are brought before a judge to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the charges; if there is, the judge remands the defendant for trial.
The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and the authorities observe it in practice. 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. A defense lawyer has the right to be present during interrogation and may advise the accused how to respond or not to respond to questions. The accused has the right to confront his accuser.
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 previously represented or reappoint earlier counsel if the appellant no longer can afford that lawyer's services. Due to the backlog of cases caused by a shortage of judges and facilities, up to 6 months can pass before those charged with serious offenses face trial in the High Court. With the exception of persons charged with murder and foreign-born drug suspects, the courts grant most defendants bail while awaiting trial.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The Constitution prohibits such practices, and the authorities generally respect these prohibitions. The law generally requires judicially issued warrants for searching homes, except in cases of hot pursuit. The Firearms Act of 1968 and the Drug Abuse Prevention Act Number 7 of 1992 contain other exceptions that give the police and security units legal authority to search persons and property without warrants in certain circumstances. In practice police obtain warrants in the majority of cases before conducting any search.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the Government respects these rights in practice. There are three weekly newspapers, and several other newspapers publish irregularly. One of the weeklies is affiliated with an opposition political party, but the three most widely circulated newspapers are independent and often critical of the Government. The newspapers routinely carry press releases by the opposition parties, including regular weekly columns expressing the opposition parties' views.
There are six radio stations. The main station is part of the Grenadian Broadcasting Network (GBN), a privately owned organization in which the Government holds a minority share. The principal television station is also part of the GBN. A privately owned television station began broadcasting in 1992. A cable television company operates in most areas of the country. All newspapers, radio, and television stations enjoy independence from the State and regularly report opposition views. The television news often carried reports on opposition activities, including coverage of political rallies held by various political parties and candidates, public forums featuring political leaders of each of the major parties, and other public service broadcasts.
The Government does not restrict academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The Constitution provides for the right to assemble for any peaceful purpose, and the Government respects this right in practice. Supporters of political parties meet frequently and hold public rallies; the authorities require permits for the use of a public address system but not for public meetings themselves.
The Constitution provides for the right to association, and the Government respects this right in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government respects this right in practice.
d. Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The Constitution provides for freedom of movement within the country, and all citizens have the right to enter and leave the country, except in special circumstances as outlined in and limited by the 1986 Act to Restrict the Freedom of Movement of Certain Persons. This law allows the Minister for National Security to restrict travel out of the country by any person whose aims, tendencies, or objectives include the overthrow of the democratic and parliamentary system of government; it has not been invoked in the past few years. Anyone so restricted may appeal after 3 months to an independent and impartial tribunal. The Chief Justice appoints an accredited lawyer to preside over such a tribunal.
No formal government policy toward refugee or asylum requests exists. The issue of provision of first asylum did not arise. There were no reports of forced return of persons to a country where they feared persecution.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The Constitution provides citizens with the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercise this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage. General elections must be held every 5 years; in January 1999, Prime Minister Keith C. Mitchell's NNP was returned to office, securing all 15 seats in Parliament. Since then one Member of Parliament changed party affiliation to become the single elected opposition member, leaving the NNP with a majority of 14 seats.
There are no restrictions in law or practice on participation by women in government and politics. Four of the 15 elected Members of Parliament are women; there are no women among the 13 appointed Senators. Women account for 7 of the 13 permanent secretaries, the highest civil service position in each ministry; in addition, a woman is the Cabinet Secretary, the highest civil service position in the Government.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Local human rights groups operate without government restriction, and the Government cooperates with visits from international human rights organizations. In September Amnesty International established its regional office for the Eastern Caribbean in Grenada.
Section 5 Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, Disability, Language, or Social Status
The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, place of origin, political opinions, color, creed, or sex, and the Government generally adheres to these provisions.
Women's rights monitors believe that violence against women remains a serious problem; however, they reported a decrease in such incidents during 1998, and more recent figures were not available. The police state that most cases of abuse are not reported, and others are settled out of court. The law stipulates a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident. The Ministry of Women's Affairs was preparing a public relations campaign to increase awareness of the problem of domestic violence. In September 1999, a shelter for battered and abused women and their children opened in the northern part of the island, with medical and psychological counseling personnel on its staff. The home accommodates 20 persons.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem.
There is no evidence of official discrimination in health care, employment, or education. Women frequently earn less than men performing the same work; such wage differences are less marked for the more highly paid jobs.
Prostitution is illegal.
The Social Welfare Division within the Ministry of Labor provides probationary and rehabilitative services to youths, day care services and social work programs to families, assistance to families wishing to adopt or foster children, and financial assistance to the six children's homes run by private organizations.
Education is compulsory until the age of 16.
Government social service agencies reported a further increase in the number of child abuse cases, including sexual abuse. Abused children are placed either in a government-run home or in private foster homes. The law provides for harsh penalties against those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest. Women's organizations and other nongovernmental organizations increased their public awareness efforts to recognize and combat sexual abuse of women and children.
People with Disabilities
The law does not protect job seekers with disabilities from discrimination in employment, nor does it mandate provision of accessibility for public buildings or services. The National Council for the Disabled and the National Children's Home assist the Government in placing disabled students into community schools. The Council also seeks assistance from architects and builders in the construction of ramps at hotels and public buildings, and ramps have been installed at some hotels and government buildings.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
All workers are free to organize independent labor unions. Labor Ministry officials estimate that 35 percent of the work force is unionized. Union leaders play a significant role in the political process, and one labor leader serves in the Senate on behalf of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC).
Workers in the private and public sectors are free to strike, once legal and procedural requirements are met. There were several incidents of industrial action, including brief strikes by teachers, port authority workers, and private sector workers. Workers at the water company and the telephone company briefly employed "work-to-rule" tactics. However, all such actions were short-lived and settled with the intervention of the Labor Commission, the Minister of Labor, or the Industrial Court. All unions are technically free of government control, and none receive government financial support. However, all of the major unions belong to one umbrella labor federation, the GTUC, which is subsidized by the Government. The GTUC holds annual conventions and determines some policies for member unions.
The GTUC and its unions freely affiliate with regional and international trade union groups.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Workers are free to organize and to participate in collective bargaining. Legislation requires employers to recognize a union that represents the majority of workers in a particular business. The law prohibits discrimination by employers against union members and organizers. If a complaint of discrimination arises, mechanisms exist to resolve it. After all avenues for resolving a complaint have been exhausted between union representatives and employers, both sides may agree to ask for the assistance of the Labor Commissioner. If the Labor Commissioner is unable to find a resolution to the impasse, the Minister of Labor intervenes and, if unable to reach an agreement, may appoint an arbitration tribunal if both parties agree to abide by its ruling. The law requires employers who are found guilty of antiunion discrimination to rehire dismissed employees, but in most cases the employee accepts the option of compensation. There were no cases of antiunion discrimination reported to the Ministry during the year.
There are no export processing zones.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The Constitution specifically prohibits forced or bonded labor, including that of children, and it is not known to occur.
d. Status of Child Labor Practices and Minimum Age for Employment
Child labor is illegal; however, children sometimes work in the agricultural sector. The statutory minimum age for employment of children is 16 years. Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor enforce this provision in the formal sector by periodic checks. Enforcement efforts in the informal sector are lax. The Constitution prohibits forced or bonded labor by children, and there were no reports that it occurred (see Section 6.c.).
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
There are no minimum wage laws in force. Most workers, including nonunionized workers, receive packages of benefits from employers set by collective bargaining agreements between employers and labor unions. In many cases, overall wages and benefits are not sufficient to provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family. Many agricultural workers earn only about $5.37 to $5.55 (EC$14.50 to EC$15.00) per day.
The Constitution stipulates that the maximum number of hours per week workers may work is 40. The law does not prescribe a standard workweek, except for the public sector, which is expected to work a 40-hour week Monday through Friday. The normal workweek in the commercial sector includes Saturday morning work but does not exceed 40 hours.
The Government sets health and safety standards, but the authorities enforce them unevenly. Workers can remove themselves from dangerous workplace situations without jeopardy to continued employment.
f. Trafficking in Persons
There are no laws that specifically address trafficking in persons. There were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, within, or through the country.