Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state. The governor general is the queen’s representative in country and certifies all legislation on her behalf. The ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party won re-election in March parliamentary elections. In their initial report, election monitors stated there were problems with the electoral process but results “reflected the will of the people.” As of November the final report had not been released.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Human rights issues included harsh and life threatening prison conditions, corruption, criminal libel, and laws against consensual adult same-sex sexual activity (although these were not enforced).
The government took steps to prosecute and punish those who committed human rights abuses. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year.
Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press, but the government respected this right on a somewhat limited basis.
Press and Media Freedom: Privately owned print media, including daily and weekly newspapers, were active. There were claims, however, that the government was hostile to opposition and independent media and did not provide them equal access to government officials. Senior government officials routinely refused to grant interviews to media outlets other than those supported by the government.
Libel/Slander Laws: There were two libel cases pending against the country’s sole independent media outlet involving ruling party ministers.
The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.
According to the International Telecommunication Union, 76 percent of the population had access to the internet in 2017.
ACADEMIC FREEDOM AND CULTURAL EVENTS
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.
See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides 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, the International Organization for Migration, and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
PROTECTION OF REFUGEES
Access to Asylum: The country does not have any laws or legal procedures governing asylum or refugee status. The government handles asylum requests on an ad hoc basis.