Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. There were no updates on the February 2017 police killing that occurred in Boetica.
There were no reports of disappearances by or on behalf of government authorities.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The constitution prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.
Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns in the country’s sole prison, Stockfarm Prison, regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.
Administration: Authorities conducted proper investigations of credible allegation of mistreatment.
Independent Monitoring: An independent committee composed of the chief welfare officer, justices of the peace, chaplain, youth welfare officers, social workers, and senior retired civil servants visited the prison once per month to investigate complaints and monitor prison and detention center conditions. Prisoners could request meetings with the superintendent to lodge complaints. The government permitted visits by independent human rights observers. As of October no independent human rights observers visited the prison.
Improvements: During the year the prison finished installing beds and toilets in the maximum-security unit, built new administrative offices, and repaired its electrical room, which was damaged during Hurricane Maria.
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention in court, and the government generally observed these requirements.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
The Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security oversees the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force, the country’s only security force. The Financial Intelligence Unit reports to the Ministry of Legal Affairs and some of its officers have arrest authority.
Civilian authorities maintained effective control over police, and the government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. New recruits received human rights training.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Police apprehended persons using warrants issued by a judicial authority. The law requires that authorities inform persons of the reasons for their arrest within 24 hours and bring detainees to court within 72 hours. Authorities generally honored this requirement. If authorities are unable to bring a detainee to court within the requisite period, the detainee may be released and rearrested at a later time. There was a functioning bail system. Criminal detainees had prompt access to counsel and family members. The state provides a lawyer if a defendant charged with murder cannot afford one.
Arbitrary Arrest: In August 2017 police charged opposition political figures with “obstruction of justice and incitement.” Three of them appeared at the high court in September, and the magistrate set the next hearing for March 28, 2019. The charges stemmed from public disturbances that occurred in February 2017, when police arrested four opposition UWP leaders on the grounds that a UWP public political meeting incited a subsequent riot. Police alleged that opposition members had attempted a coup and charged one of them with obstructing a police officer, but the court dismissed the charge against that individual.
Pretrial Detention: Lengthy detention before trial was a problem due to judicial staff shortages. On average, prisoners remained on remand status for six to 24 months. According to prison management, the average length of time prisoners remained on remand status was two months, while civil society claimed the waiting time was between six and 24 months.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.
Inadequate prosecutorial and police staffing, outdated legislation, and a lack of magistrates resulted in severe backlogs and other problems in the judicial system.
The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.
Defendants have the right to a presumption of innocence; prompt and detailed information about charges; a trial without undue delay; personal presence at their trial; communication with an attorney of their choice; adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense; free assistance of an interpreter; 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.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
For civil matters there is an independent, impartial judiciary to which 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; however, individuals and organizations may present petitions to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.