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Antigua and Barbuda

Executive Summary

Antigua and Barbuda is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. In 2014 parliamentary elections, which observers described as generally free and fair, the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labor Party defeated the United Progressive Party, and Gaston Browne was elected prime minister.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included poor prison conditions and laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity, although they were not enforced during the year.

The government took steps to prosecute and punish those who committed human rights abuses.

Barbados

Executive Summary

Barbados is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. In the 2013 national elections, voters re-elected Prime Minister Freundel Stuart of the Democratic Labour Party. Observers considered the vote generally in accordance with international standards, despite allegations of small-scale vote buying.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included allegations of torture by some police officers to obtain confessions and criminalization of same-sex activity, although this was not enforced during the year.

The government took steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed abuses.

Belize

Executive Summary

Belize is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. In November 2015 the United Democratic Party (UDP) won 19 of 31 seats in the House of Representatives following generally free and fair multiparty elections.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included allegations of unlawful killings by security officers, which the authorities investigated and prosecuted; allegations of corruption by government agents; allegations that several killings were motivated by sexual orientation or gender identity; trafficking in persons; and child labor.

In some cases the government took steps to prosecute public officials who committed abuses, both administratively and through the courts, but there were few successful prosecutions. While some lower-ranking officials faced disciplinary action and/or criminal charges, higher-ranking officials were less likely to face punishment, resulting in a perception of impunity.

Cuba

Executive Summary

Cuba is an authoritarian state led by Raul Castro, who is president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers, Communist Party (CP) first secretary, and commander in chief of security forces. The constitution recognizes the CP as the only legal party and the leading force of society and of the state. The government postponed October municipal elections due to recovery efforts related to Hurricane Irma but conducted them in November, although they were neither free nor fair. A CP candidacy commission prescreened all candidates, and the government actively worked to block non-CP approved candidates.

The national leadership, including members of the military, maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included torture of perceived political opponents; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; politically motivated, sometimes violent, detentions and arrests; a complete absence of judicial independence; arbitrary arrest and detention that was politically motivated and sometimes violent; trial processes that effectively put the burden on the defendant to prove innocence; and political prisoners. There was arbitrary interference with privacy, including search-and-seizure operations in homes and monitoring and censoring private communications. Freedom of expression was limited to expression that “conforms to the goals of socialist society,” with strict censorship punishing even distribution of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There were bans on importation of informational materials; strict control of all forms of media; restrictions on the internet, including severely limiting availability and site blocking; restrictions on academic freedom, including punishment for any deviation from the government line; criminalization of criticism of government leaders; and severe limitations on academic and cultural freedom, including on library access. There were restrictions on rights of assembly to those that the government deemed to be “against the existence and objectives of the socialist state”; criminalization of gatherings of three or more not authorized by the government, and use of government-organized acts of repudiation in the form of mobs organized to assault and disperse those who assembled peacefully; denial of freedom of association, including refusal to recognize independent associations; restrictions on internal and external freedom of movement; restriction of participation in the political process to those approved by the government; official corruption; outlawing of independent trade unions; compulsory labor; and trafficking in persons.

Government officials, at the direction of their superiors, committed most human rights abuses. Impunity for the perpetrators remained widespread.

Dominica

Executive Summary

Dominica is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy. In the 2014 general election, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Dominica Labor Party prevailed over the opposition United Workers Party by a margin of 15 seats to six. Organization of American States election observers noted some irregularities but found the elections generally free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses.

Dominican Republic

Executive Summary

The Dominican Republic is a representative constitutional democracy. In May 2016 Danilo Medina of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) was re-elected president for a second four-year term. Impartial outside observers assessed the elections were generally free and orderly despite failures in the introduction of an electronic voting system.

Civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included extrajudicial killings by security forces; torture; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; arbitrary interference with privacy; criminal libel for individual journalists; impunity for corruption; police violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals; and child labor, sometimes as a result of human trafficking.

The government took some steps to punish officials who committed human rights abuses, but there were widespread reports of official impunity and corruption, especially concerning officials of senior rank.

Grenada

Executive Summary

Grenada is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. Observers considered the 2013 elections to be generally free and fair. The New National Party won all 15 seats in the House of Representatives and selected Keith Mitchell as prime minister.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

There were no reports of egregious human rights abuses by the government. Although the law criminalized same-sex sexual activity, it was not enforced during the year.

The government investigated and prosecuted officials who committed violations.

Guyana

Executive Summary

The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a multiparty democracy. National and regional elections were held in 2015, and a coalition of parties named APNU+AFC won. The largest components of that coalition were the Alliance for Change (AFC) and the People’s National Congress/Reform, which constituted most of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU). Former leader of the opposition David Granger led the election coalition parties APNU+AFC and became president. International and local observers considered the elections free, fair, and credible.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included harsh and potentially life-threatening prison conditions and laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity, although they were not enforced during the year.

Government officials did not enjoy impunity for human rights abuses. There were independent and transparent procedures for handling allegations of abuses by security forces.

Haiti

Executive Summary

Haiti is a constitutional republic with a multiparty political system. Voters elected Jovenel Moise as president for a five-year term in national elections held in November 2016. The most recent national legislative elections were on January 29. International election observers considered the elections free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included isolated allegations of arbitrary and unlawful killings by government officials; allegations of beatings of detainees; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; a judiciary subject to corruption and outside influence; physical attacks on journalists; widespread corruption; and trafficking in persons.

Although the government took steps to prosecute or punish government and law enforcement officials accused of committing abuses, credible reports persisted of officials engaging in corrupt practices, and civil society groups alleged there was widespread impunity.

Jamaica

Executive Summary

Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy. In national elections in February 2016, the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) led by Prime Minister Andrew Michael Holness won a majority 32 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives. International and local election observers deemed the elections transparent, free, and fair but noted isolated incidents of violence prior to, and on, election day. By-elections for three seats in the House of Representatives on October 30, resulted in the JLP’s increasing its majority to 33 seats. Local election observers deemed the by-elections transparent, free, fair, and peaceful.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included numerous reports of arbitrary and other unlawful killings by government security forces; entrenched government corruption within some government agencies; violence against women; sexual assault and incest committed against young girls by gang members; criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, although these laws were not enforced during the year; and societal violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

The government took some steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed human rights abuses, although a general sense of impunity remained with respect to alleged unlawful killings by agents of state.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Executive Summary

Saint Kitts and Nevis is a multiparty parliamentary democracy and federation. In February 2015 national elections, Team Unity, a coalition of three opposition parties, defeated the previously ruling Saint Kitts and Nevis Labor Party and won seven of the 11 elected seats in the legislature. Team Unity leader Timothy Harris was elected prime minister. Independent observers from the Organization of the American States concluded that the election was generally free and fair, but they called for electoral reform, noting that procedural difficulties in the election process resulted in the slow transmission of results. The constitution provides the smaller island of Nevis considerable self-government under a premier.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included violence against women and girls, child abuse, and criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, although the law was not enforced during the year.

The government took steps to prosecute and convict officials who committed abuses, but some cases remained unresolved.

Saint Lucia

Executive Summary

Saint Lucia is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy. In free and fair elections in June 2016 the United Workers Party (UWP) won 11 of the 17 seats in the House of Assembly, defeating the previously ruling Saint Lucia Labor Party. UWP leader Allen Chastanet became prime minister.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included violence against suspects and prisoners by police and criminalization of same-sex sexual activity, although the law was not enforced during the year.

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.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Executive Summary

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy. Government control lies with the prime minister and his cabinet. In 2015 Vincentians returned Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to office for a fourth term. International observers assessed the election as generally free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included criminalization of libel and same-sex sexual activity, although those laws were not enforced during the year.

There were no reported instances during the year of the government investigating or prosecuting officials who committed abuses, and there was not a widespread perception of impunity for security force members. Government procedures exist to investigate violations, but few reports of violations occurred.

Suriname

Executive Summary

Suriname is a constitutional democracy with a president elected by the unicameral National Assembly. Elections for the National Assembly took place in May 2015, and in July 2015 the assembly elected Desire Delano Bouterse to a second consecutive term as president. International observers considered legislative elections to be free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included the unresolved trial of President Bouterse and 18 codefendants for the 1982 extrajudicial killings of 15 political opponents; arbitrary arrest of protest leaders; threats made against the judiciary; restrictions on the right to peaceful assembly; widespread government corruption; violence and abuse against women and children; trafficking in persons; police violence toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons as well as persons with HIV and other minorities; and worst forms of child labor, which the government made minimal efforts to eliminate.

The government took steps to investigate, prosecute, and punish officials who committed violations, whether in the security forces or elsewhere in the government. Observers nonetheless expressed concern that high public officials and security officers had impunity from enforcement.

The Bahamas

Executive Summary

The Commonwealth of the Bahamas is a constitutional, parliamentary democracy. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis’s Free National Movement won control of the government in May elections that international observers found free and fair.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included violence by guards against prisoners, harsh conditions in detention facilities, and lengthy trial delays.

The government took action in some cases against police officers and other officials accused of abuse of power.

Trinidad and Tobago

Executive Summary

The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago is a parliamentary democracy governed by a prime minister and a bicameral legislature. The island of Tobago’s House of Assembly has some administrative autonomy over local matters. In elections in2015, which observers considered generally free and fair, the opposition People’s National Movement, led by Keith Rowley, defeated the ruling People’s Partnership, led by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, and the political transition was smooth.

Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.

The most significant human rights issues included police and prison officials’ mistreatment of detainees; refoulement of refugees due to poor training of officials; official corruption; laws that criminalize same-sex sexual activity, although such laws were not enforced during the year; and continued criminalization of the status or conduct of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons.

The government took some steps to punish security force members and other officials charged with killings or other abuse, but open-ended investigations and the generally slow pace of criminal judicial proceedings created a climate of impunity.

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