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Antigua and Barbuda

Executive Summary

Antigua and Barbuda is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. The prime minister is the head of government and Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, represented by a governor general. The ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party won a majority of seats in 2018 parliamentary elections that were deemed free and fair.

Security forces consist of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, the prison guard service, immigration officers, airport and port security personnel, the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, and the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy. National security, including police and prison guards, falls under the supervision of the attorney general, who is also the minister of legal affairs, public safety, and labor. Immigration falls under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Immigration. The Ministry of Finance is responsible for money-laundering policy. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no credible reports that members of the security forces committed abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of serious acts of official corruption, and the existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct, although the laws were not enforced.

The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses. The government implemented the law criminalizing official corruption despite prolonged disruptions to the criminal justice system during the pandemic.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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. Impunity was not a significant problem in the security forces.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison and detention center conditions were harsh due to inadequate sanitary conditions and overcrowding.

Physical Conditions: The country’s sole prison was built in 1735 to hold 150 prisoners but as of October held 246, of whom 11 were women. According to a nongovernmental organization (NGO) representative, overcrowding created serious COVID-19 infection risks for prisoners and staff. The government did not provide information regarding numbers of COVID-19 infections in the prison.

There were no reports of prisoner mistreatment.

Administration: The superintendent of prisons reviews mistreatment reports and forwards them to a prison-visiting committee for further investigation.

Independent Monitoring: The government permits prison visits by independent human rights observers, but no visits occurred during the year.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution 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.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

The law permits police to arrest a person without a warrant, based on a suspicion of criminal activity. Police must bring detainees before a court within 48 hours of arrest or detention or file a motion requesting an extension. The law stipulates prisoners must be released if these time limits are not met. There is a functioning bail system, but a person charged with murder cannot obtain bail. The government pays for the cost of a lawyer in capital cases if a defendant is unable to afford one.

Pretrial Detention: The government stated there were 30 criminal cases awaiting trial. There were no in-person court proceedings between March 2020 and July 2021 because of the pandemic.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial by jury, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.

Defendants have the right to a presumption of innocence. Defendants have the right to be informed promptly of the charges, the right to a timely trial, and to be present at their trial. Defendants have the right to timely access to an attorney of their choice. The government provides legal assistance at public expense to persons without the means to retain a private attorney, but only in capital cases. Defendants have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense and free assistance of an interpreter if needed. They have the right to confront prosecution or plaintiff witnesses and to present their own witnesses and evidence. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Defendants have the right to appeal.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

Individuals and organizations may seek civil remedies through domestic courts for human rights violations. They may apply to the High Court for redress of alleged violations of their constitutional rights. They may appeal adverse domestic decisions to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent media, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media, on a somewhat limited basis.

Freedom of Expression for Members of the Press and Other Media, Including Online Media: There were no privately owned print media. There were claims that the government was hostile to independent broadcast media outlets and did not provide them equal access to government officials. Observers claimed that the government and the prime minister in particular owned media outlets that were used exclusively to disseminate government information. Prime Minister Browne stated that although he was the founder of Pointe FM radio, he was no longer a shareholder; however, he did not reveal the ownership. Senior government officials routinely refused to grant interviews to media outlets that were critical of the ruling party and instead used government media exclusively.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association. In August police teargassed individuals protesting mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations. Police officials stated the protesters were breaking the law because they had not been issued the necessary permit and refused to disperse.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not Applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

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.

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. The government handles asylum requests on an ad hoc basis.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In the 2018 elections, the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party won 15 of 17 seats in the House of Representatives and Gaston Browne was subsequently named prime minister. The Caribbean Community Observation Mission and a Commonwealth Observer Group monitored the election. In their initial report, monitors noted the electoral boundaries had seen only minor adjustments since 1984, leading to large disparities in voter populations in different electoral districts. The monitors stated that despite problems with the electoral process, the results “reflected the will of the people.”

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but full implementation of the law was hindered during the pandemic. Media reported several allegations of corruption against officials during the year. Media and private citizens reported government corruption was widespread and endorsed at the highest levels of government

Corruption: The government pursued corruption cases related to former high-ranking political officials. The Citizenship by Investment Program was a critical source of government revenue. Although the government publishes semiannual public reports on some of the program’s activities, its lack of full transparency led to concerns by civil society and opposition political leaders about oversight and corruption.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Domestic human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: An independent ombudsman appointed by Parliament handles public complaints against police, government officials, and government offices. The ombudsman takes complaints, conducts investigations, and then makes recommendations to the relevant authorities.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law establishes sentences ranging from 10 years’ to life imprisonment for conviction of the rape of women. The law also addresses rape of men and establishes sentences of five years’ to life imprisonment if convicted. Spousal rape is illegal under certain limited circumstances, such as after a legal separation, with a punishment of 15 years’ imprisonment if convicted. No spousal rape cases were filed in 2020. Authorities stated three rape cases were prosecuted in 2020, but the charges were withdrawn in all three. The officials stated that historically a significant percentage of rape cases were dismissed either for lack of evidence or because the victim declined to press charges. Government authorities declared that 12 sexual offenses cases in 2020 were discontinued. In nine of them, the complainants no longer wished to proceed with prosecution, in two there was insufficient evidence, and in the final one the accused died. The sexual offenses cases covered unlawful sexual intercourse, rape, and indecent assault.

Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a serious problem. The law prohibits domestic violence, but the law was not enforced. Anecdotal media reports suggested that police failed to fully carry out their obligations on domestic violence.

Authorities stated they had several domestic-violence programs, including training for law enforcement officers, health-care professionals, counselors, social workers, immigration officers, and army officers.

Sexual Harassment: The law covers indecent assault, incest, rape, and indecent exposure but does not prohibit sexual harassment. Authorities stated that during the year 10 men were prosecuted for unlawful sexual intercourse: seven were convicted, one was acquitted, and charges were dropped in two cases. The government also stated there were two prosecutions for indecent assault with two convictions and one case where charges were dropped.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception for survivors of sexual violence through the Ministry of Social Transformation and the Blue Economy.

Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men. Government officials declared that the law requires equal pay for equal work. The law does not specifically prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. The labor code stipulates it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual because of his or her gender. The Ministry of Labour reported that it did not receive any complaints of employment discrimination during the year.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The law protects all citizens from broad forms of discrimination and the law is enforced. The country does not have a racially or ethnically diverse population. Approximately 91 percent of the population is Black, and approximately 87 percent of the Black population is of African descent. According to the government, systemic racial or ethnic discrimination is not a concern. There were no reports of systemic discrimination.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is acquired by birth in the country, and the government registers all children at birth. Children born abroad to citizen parents may be registered by either parent.

Child Abuse: The law on child abuse includes provisions on child-care services and orders of care placing abused children into the care of government authorities. The law stipulates a significant fine or three years in prison for conviction of child abuse. In extreme cases the government removes children from their homes and puts them in foster care or into a government-run or private children’s home.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women. Minors ages 16-17 may marry with parental consent; however, marriage when either partner was younger than 18 was rare.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child pornography is illegal and subject to large fines and up to 20 years in prison. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits any form of discrimination based on disability and stipulates a moderate fine or two years’ imprisonment for conviction of violations. Authorities stated the law requires that persons with disabilities must be able to access education, health services, public buildings, and transportation on an equal basis with all other persons; however, some public areas, including government buildings, were not in compliance with these requirements.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

An NGO representative reported that fear, stigma, and discrimination impaired the willingness of some persons with HIV to obtain treatment. Anecdotal evidence suggested employers dismissed and discriminated against employees with HIV or AIDS.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

There were no reports of public violence committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

Sodomy is criminalized under indecency statutes, with a maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment; however, the law was not enforced. Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men or between women is criminalized with a maximum penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment. No law specifically prohibits discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of public-sector and private-sector workers to form and join independent unions. The law also provides for the right to bargain collectively and conduct legal strikes, but it imposes several restrictions on the right to strike. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers but does not specifically require reinstatement of workers illegally fired for union activity.

Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were generally respected for Antiguan workers as well as migrant laborers. There were no reports of antiunion discrimination, nor were there any reports of violations of collective bargaining rights.

Workers who provide essential services (including water, electricity, hospital, fire, prison, air traffic control, meteorology, telecommunications, government printing office, and port authority) must give two weeks’ notice of intent to strike. If either party to a dispute requests court mediation, strikes are prohibited under penalty of imprisonment for any private-sector worker and some government workers. The Industrial Relations Court may issue an injunction against a legal strike when the national interest is threatened or affected. The law prohibits retaliation against strikers.

Penalties for violating labor laws range from a minor fine to two months in prison and were adequate to deter violations. The government enforced the right of association and collective bargaining. Administrative and judicial procedures, however, were often subject to lengthy delays and appeals.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The government reported that it did not receive any forced labor complaints during the year; however, it opened an investigation into the case of a Chinese national charged with arson as a possible forced labor case.

Media reported that Chinese national Tian Zhao Feng was arrested in June and charged with arson in the burning down of a local supermarket. Although initial media reports said that Feng’s passport was being held at the Chinese embassy, the Ministry of Labour denied this and stated Feng’s passport was in his employer’s possession. The government stated Feng had a valid work permit and was authorized to work in the country. Ministry of Labour officials stated an investigation was underway. Feng was denied bail and as of September was being held in police custody.

The Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy investigates cases of trafficking in persons, including forced labor allegations. The law prescribes penalties of 20 to 30 years’ imprisonment and significant fines.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

Laws collectively prohibit the worst forms of child labor, but specific details are not in any single statute. The government enforced child labor laws effectively, and there were no reports of child labor law violations.

The law stipulates a minimum working age of 16, although work prohibitions do not apply to family businesses. In some circumstances children younger than 16 are eligible for employment with restrictions, such as not working during school hours and working a maximum number of hours. Persons younger than 18 may not work past 10 p.m., except in certain sectors, and in some cases must have a medical clearance to obtain employment. No list of types of hazardous work exists for the protection of those younger than 18.

The law requires the Ministry of Labour to conduct periodic inspections of workplaces. There were no reports of illegal child labor; however, there were no child labor inspections. The government said that inspections were reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The law allows for a small financial penalty or three months in prison for violations; these were adequate to deter violations.

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law prohibits discrimination with respect to employment and occupation based on race, skin color, sex, age, national origin, citizenship, political beliefs, and disability. Penalties include a fine and up to 12 months in prison. The Ministry of Labour did not receive any discrimination complaints during the year.

The law does not prohibit employment discrimination based on religion, language, sexual orientation, gender identity, HIV or other communicable disease status, or social status, but the government encouraged employers not to discriminate on these grounds.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The government does not have an established poverty income level. Most workers earned substantially more than the minimum wage.

The law provides that workers are not required to work more than a 48-hour, six-day workweek. The law requires that employees be paid for overtime work at one and one-half times the employees’ basic hourly wage after exceeding 40 hours in the workweek. The Ministry of Labour put few limitations on overtime, allowing it in temporary or occasional cases, but did not allow employers to make regular overtime compulsory. Penalties for illegal overtime did not always effectively deter labor violations.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law includes occupational safety and health (OSH) provisions, but some are out of date. The Ministry of Labour reported that workers were allowed to remove themselves from unsafe situations that endangered their health or safety without jeopardizing their employment. The ministry has the authority to require special safety measures not otherwise defined in the law for worker safety. Penalties for violations of OSH laws were not always commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as negligence.

Informal Sector: The government estimated that 15 percent of the workforce was in the informal sector and that the informal sector contributed 25-30 percent of economic output. Informal-sector employment is unregulated and unreported. Labor inspectors from the Ministry of Labour and the Industrial Court are responsible for enforcement of labor laws in the formal and informal sectors. The government reported there were eight labor inspectors, which was insufficient to enforce full compliance per International Labor Organization benchmarks. No safety violations were reported. The government reported that it reduced the number of inspections and investigations to ensure the safety of the inspectors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Barbados

Executive Summary

Barbados is a parliamentary democracy led by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of the Barbados Labour Party. The Barbados Labour Party won all 30 parliamentary seats in the 2018 election, which was considered free and fair. A former Barbados Labour Party member of Parliament became an independent to serve as the formal leader of the opposition. Until November 30, Queen Elizabeth II was the head of state and was represented by the governor general, who certified all legislation on her behalf. On November 30, the country became a republic with a nonexecutive president as the ceremonial head of state.

The Barbados Police Service is responsible for domestic law enforcement, including migration and border enforcement. The police and all other law enforcement agencies report to the attorney general. The Barbados Defence Force protects national security and may be called upon to maintain public order in times of crisis, emergency, or other specific needs. Authority over the defense force is shared between the president and prime minister, with the president overseeing strategic direction and the prime minister responsible for operational leadership. The law provides that the police may request defense force assistance with special joint patrols. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the police and defense forces. There were no reports that the security forces committed any serious abuses.

Significant human rights issues included the existence of criminal libel laws and the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults (although authorities did not enforce the law during the year).

The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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 government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were no significant reports regarding adult prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.

Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse in adult prisons and detention centers.

Administration: Two agencies, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Prison Advisory Board, investigated credible allegations of mistreatment. The superintendent of prisons stated no mistreatment reports were submitted during the year.

Independent Monitoring: Human rights organizations may request access to monitor prison conditions; however, the superintendent of prisons reported that no visit requests were received during the year.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution 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. The government generally observed these requirements.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

The law authorizes police to arrest persons suspected of criminal activity; a warrant issued by a judge or justice of the peace based on evidence is typically required. Authorities may hold detainees without charge for up to five days, but once persons are charged, police must bring them before a court within 24 hours, or the next working day if the arrest occurred during the weekend. There was a functioning bail system. Criminal detainees receive prompt access to counsel and are advised of that right immediately after arrest. The law prohibits bail for those charged with murder, treason, or any gun-related offense that is punishable by imprisonment of 10 years or more.

Official procedures require police to question suspects and other persons only at a police station, except when expressly permitted by a senior divisional officer to do so elsewhere. An officer must visit detainees at least once every three hours to check on their condition. After a suspect has spent 48 hours in detention, the detaining authority must submit a written report to notify the deputy police commissioner and the police commissioner that the suspect is still in custody.

Pretrial Detention: Legal authorities expressed concern regarding lengthy stays in pretrial detention. Civil society representatives and media reports indicated that delays of five to seven years before cases went to trial were common, and in extreme cases detainees could wait up to 10 years before trial. On October 12, the chief justice stated that holding persons in extended pretrial detention without any indication of a trial date was inconsistent with the constitution. He announced that the superintendent of prisons would be required to submit a quarterly report of all persons being held in pretrial detention. The chief justice also said that he would prioritize cases involving murder, firearms, and sexual assault.

The Court of Appeal launched a new, automated, court case management system in September to replace the existing paper-based system, with the goal of improving the judiciary’s operating efficiency and reducing case backlog.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The law 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 and to be informed promptly of the charges against them. The constitution provides that persons charged with criminal offenses receive a timely, fair, and public hearing by an independent, impartial court, and a trial by jury. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial and to consult with an attorney of their choice in a timely manner. The government provides free legal aid to indigents in family matters (excluding divorce), child support cases, serious criminal cases such as rape or murder, and all cases involving minors. The constitution prescribes that defendants have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Timelines may be set by the court on arraignment. Defendants have the right to the free assistance of an interpreter. Defendants may confront and question witnesses, and present witnesses and evidence on their own behalf. Defendants cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. They have the right of appeal. The government generally respected these rights.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

Lower-level courts have both civil and criminal jurisdiction, but the civil judicial system experienced heavier backlogs. Citizens primarily sought redress for human rights or other abuses through the civil court system, although human rights cases were sometimes decided in criminal court. Individuals and organizations may appeal adverse domestic decisions to the Caribbean Court of Justice.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent media, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media.

Libel/Slander Laws: Defamation is a criminal offense punishable with imprisonment. The local media association raised concerns about intimidation of media by government ministers due to the media’s reliance on income from government advertising. There were no reports of any defamation or libel cases initiated by any government officials against media personnel.

Internet Freedom

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. Married women must provide a copy of their marriage certificate when applying for a passport; married men are not required to provide this.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

Information on the government’s cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was unavailable.

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. The Immigration Department was responsible for considering refugee and asylum claims.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: The most recent general election occurred in 2018, when the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) won all 30 seats in Parliament’s House of Assembly, and the governor general appointed BLP leader Mia Mottley as prime minister, with the support of the BLP members of the House of Assembly.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: The president, prime minister, and six cabinet ministers were women. The leader of the opposition political party was a woman.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. In October the government passed the Prevention of Corruption Act, which provides for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of acts of corruption, and applies to persons in both the public and private sectors. There were no reports of government corruption during the year.

Corruption: There were no formal investigations of government corruption during the year.

A former government minister in a previous administration was convicted by a U.S. court in January 2020 of money laundering and was sentenced in April to two years in prison for his role in a scheme to launder bribe payments from a Barbadian insurance company through bank accounts in New York.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

A variety of human rights groups generally operated without government restriction and were able to investigate and publish their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The Ombudsman’s Office hears complaints against government ministries, departments, and other authorities for alleged injuries or injustices resulting from administrative conduct. The president appoints the ombudsman on the recommendation of the prime minister and in consultation with the opposition. Parliament must approve the appointment. The ombudsman submits annual reports to Parliament that contain recommendations on changes to laws and descriptions of actions taken by the Ombudsman’s Office.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape and applies to both men and women. The maximum penalty is life imprisonment but judges have the discretion to impose shorter sentences.

The law prohibits domestic violence and protects all members of the family, including men and children. The law applies equally to marriages and to common-law relationships. The law empowers police to make an arrest after receiving a complaint, visiting the premises, and having some assurance that a crime was committed. The government did not consistently enforce the law. A nongovernmental organization (NGO) reported that the commissioner of police was very concerned about complaints raised by victims of domestic violence, and that the commissioner put mechanisms in place to improve victims’ experience with police. The NGO also reported this high level of support and recognition was not consistently evident throughout the police department, at all police stations, or at the officer level. The NGO reported that the judicial system revictimized victims of domestic abuse involving child custody disputes. It cited instances where reports of physical abuse and assault were not considered by courts when making determinations of child visitation and coparenting rights. The NGO said this led to situations where a victim had to continue to interact with their abuser in order to fulfill court visitation orders.

Penalties for domestic violence depend on the severity of the charges and range from a fine for first-time offenders (unless the injury is serious) to the death penalty for cases where the victim died. Victims may request restraining orders, which the courts often issued. The courts may sentence an offender to jail for breaching such an order. An NGO alleged that corruption impeded legal action on domestic violence cases, making it difficult for victims to obtain timely resolution of their cases.

In July an NGO reported the government did not measure domestic violence. The NGO said there was insufficient legal support for women, exposing them to abuse and exploitation.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and establishes civil penalties. Media reports indicated that sexual harassment was a problem. A union representative said he was not aware of any reports of workplace sexual harassment cases being filed or prosecuted during the year. Human rights activists, however, reported that workplace sexual harassment was widespread. In August an NGO reported that young girls and women were verbally harassed in the streets, faced sexual advances from men, and were verbally and emotionally abused when sexual advances were refused.

Media reported on a foreign woman participating in the country’s teleworker visa program. Although she intended to stay for at least 12 months, the woman abruptly departed the island after only a few months, citing intolerable sexual harassment. In another incident, a man sexually harassed two women on a public beach. When police responded to the women’s call for assistance, the officer was caught on video in a “blame the victim” moment, saying that he could see why the man was harassing the women.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities. There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage. The government provided access to health care for all persons who required it, including victims of sexual violence. The government also provided financial support to NGOs that assisted victims of sexual violence.

An NGO reported that some girls in police custody as runaways were subjected to vaginal exams without their consent, and in some instances without the consent of their parents or guardians, to prove whether the girls were sexually active. The NGO said that some parents or guardians were coerced by police to consent to these exams and were not fully informed of their rights. The NGO also reported that police forced girls to take tests for pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

Discrimination: The law prohibits employment discrimination based on age, skin color, creed, disability, domestic partnership status, marital status, medical condition, physical features, political opinion, pregnancy, race, trade, sex, sexual orientation, social status, or union affiliation. The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men.

Women actively participated in all aspects of national life and were well represented at all levels of the public and private sectors, although some discrimination persisted. The law does not mandate equal pay for equal work, and reports indicated women earned significantly less than men for comparable work. There are laws limiting types of work that women can do in factories.

The government stated that employers cannot mandate employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 and that the government would not tolerate any discrimination against employees based on their vaccination status.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The country’s charter and laws protect racial, ethnic, and minority groups from broad forms of discrimination. The country does not have a racially or ethnically diverse population. Approximately 93 percent of the population is Black and primarily of African descent. The government does not consider systemic racial or ethnic discrimination to be a problem in the country. There were no reports of any systemic discrimination.

Children

Birth Registration: A child born in the country is a citizen by birth. There was universal birth registration, and all children are registered immediately after birth without any discrimination. An NGO reported that some foreign women had difficulty accessing health care and welfare services for their Barbados-born children after the woman’s relationship with her Barbadian partner ended.

Child Abuse: The law prohibits child abuse but does not prohibit corporal punishment of children. No law requires a person to report suspected child abuse, but the government encouraged the public to report cases where they believed abuse may have occurred. Child abuse remained a problem. An NGO representative reported that their NGO frequently encountered situations involving molestation and incest.

The Child Care Board had a mandate for the care and protection of children, which involved investigating daycare centers, investigating allegations of child abuse or child labor, and providing counseling services, residential placement, and foster care.

Media reported a 61-year-old man was sentenced to four years in prison for a sexual act on a five-year-old girl. Media also published a report on the abuse of a 14-year-old girl at the government’s reform school. The report included a photograph leaked by a staff member that showed the girl lying naked on a cement floor in a solitary confinement cell at the school. According to an NGO, the girl was charged with wandering (the legal charge applied against underage runaways) and was placed in the school as a runaway. Although the government launched an investigation into the incident, the minister in charge of the school complained about the staff member’s release of the photograph. Civil society activists cited the abuse incident as evidence of the school board’s mismanagement of the facility.

An NGO reported an increase in reports of molestation and incest affecting girls.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18. Persons ages 16 and 17 may marry with parental consent.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides for the protection of children from sexual exploitation and abuse. Child pornography is illegal, and the authorities effectively enforced the law. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts. The Jewish community was very small.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in employment, but it does not extend protection to education or other state services. A separate law requires employers to ensure the safety and health of persons with disabilities. A union representative said that despite these legal protections, persons with disabilities faced various forms of discrimination.

The COVID-19 pandemic magnified existing discrimination against persons with disabilities, and it slowed the development of improved facilities. For example, the Barbados Council for the Disabled said some persons with disabilities who were unable to go to a bank because of COVID restrictions faced challenges using online services.

The council also stated that disability benefits were available only for blind, visually impaired, or deaf persons, and that persons with other disabilities were ineligible. The council said that personnel at vaccine clinics were insensitive to persons with nonapparent disabilities. The council reported that it prioritized mental health assistance and basic needs such as food packages.

The Barbados Council for the Disabled, the Barbados National Organization for the Disabled, and other NGOs reported that public transportation remained inaccessible to persons with disabilities. Many public areas lacked the ramps, railings, parking, and bathroom adjustments needed to accommodate persons with disabilities. The Town and Country Planning Department set standards for all public buildings to include accessibility for persons with disabilities. Most new buildings had ramps, reserved parking, and accessible bathrooms.

The Barbados Council for the Disabled engaged with various governmental and nongovernmental entities to represent the interests of disabled persons. The council had a supportive relationship with the National Disabilities Unit, a government office that facilitated, advocated, and promoted the advancement and empowerment of persons with disabilities. The council operated transportation services to assist persons with disabilities.

The council also provided disability sensitivity training to businesses, particularly in the tourism sector. The council’s flagship program, Fully Accessible Barbados, facilitated government and private-sector organizations creating recognized accessible and inclusive spaces and services for persons with disabilities.

The Ministry of Education catered to the educational needs of children with disabilities in three ways: in regular classrooms, in special classrooms in the regular school, and in special units or special education schools. Specially equipped classrooms (special units) were offered in eight public primary schools. Children who were deaf, hearing impaired, blind, or visually impaired attended the Irving Wilson School. The Ann Hill School catered to secondary school-age children with developmental delays and other disabilities.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, with penalties for conviction up to life imprisonment for men, and up to 10 years’ imprisonment for men and women convicted of “acts of serious indecency.” There were no reports of the law being enforced during the year.

An NGO reported that authorities did not take seriously reports of sexual and homophobic harassment. In some cases, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons identified perpetrators of harassment but were deterred from reporting these experiences or prevented from seeking justice.

Civil society groups reported that LGBTQI+ persons faced verbal abuse at home and in public.

In September the High Court heard Holder-McClean-Ramirez and Ors versus Attorney General. Two individuals and the civil society organization Equals brought the case as a challenge to the criminalization of same-sex conduct.  As of year’s end, a decision was pending.

In November the government introduced a new charter to Parliament that states, “All Barbadians are born free and are equal in human dignity and rights regardless of age, race, ethnicity, faith, class, cultural and educational background, ability, sex, gender, or sexual orientation.”  The LGBTQI+ movement welcomed the inclusive references to gender and sexual orientation while noting the need for strong protections on the basis of gender identity.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of workers to form and join unions and conduct legal strikes but does not specifically recognize the right to bargain collectively. Moreover, the law does not obligate employers to recognize unions or to accept collective bargaining. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and protects workers engaged in union activity. A tribunal may order reinstatement, rehiring, or compensation for antiunion discrimination. The law permits all private-sector employees to strike but prohibits strikes by workers in essential services such as police, firefighting, electricity, and water. Penalties were not commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination.

A labor union representative reported that the government generally tried to enforce labor laws but did not have enough labor and safety inspectors to enforce all labor regulations effectively. Generally, the government effectively enforced labor law in the formal sector. Penalties were sufficient to deter violations.

The law gives persons the right to have allegations of unfair dismissal tried before the Employment Rights Tribunal. The process often had lengthy delays.

A tripartite group of labor, management, and government representatives met regularly to discuss labor topics. The group dealt with social and economic problems, formulated legislative policy, and worked towards harmonious workplace relations.

Although employers were under no legal obligation to recognize unions, most major employers did so when more than 50 percent of the employees made a request. Companies were sometimes hesitant to engage in collective bargaining with a recognized union, but in most instances they eventually did so. Smaller companies often were not unionized.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. A union official said the government generally enforced such laws, which were sufficient to deter violations.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law governing child labor states that education is compulsory for children up to age 16 or 17, depending on when the student took the secondary school entrance exam. Exemptions to educational requirements are allowed for children receiving special education; children receiving instruction at home in a manner and to a standard satisfactory to the minister of education; children unable to attend school because of illness or health reasons; sudden or serious illness of a parent; or religious observance. The law also states that no child shall be allowed to work during school hours or between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m. in any occupation.

The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor. The law provides for a minimum working age of 16 in certain sectors but does not cover sectors such as agriculture or family businesses. The law prohibits children younger than 18 from engaging in work likely to harm their health, safety, or morals, but it does not specify which occupations fall under this prohibition. The law was effectively enforced, and child labor laws were generally observed. Parents are culpable under the law if their children younger than 16 are not in school. By law children ages 14-16 may engage in light work with parental consent. The law does not provide a list of occupations constituting light work.

Ministry of Labor inspectors may initiate legal action against an employer found employing underage workers. Employers found guilty of violating this law may be fined or imprisoned for up to 12 months. Penalties were generally sufficient to deter violations.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/findings/ .

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law prohibits discrimination on grounds of age, skin color, creed, disability, domestic partnership status, marital status, medical condition, physical features, political opinion, pregnancy, race, trade, gender, sexual orientation, social status, or union affiliation. A union official said employment discrimination was not a serious concern. The government generally enforced the law.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: There is a minimum wage for housekeepers and shop assistants. There is no official poverty income level. The standard legal workweek is 40 hours in five days. The law provides employees with three weeks of paid holiday annually for persons with less than five years of service and four weeks of paid holiday annually after five years of service. The law requires overtime payment of time and a half for hours worked more than the legal standard and prescribes that all overtime must be voluntary. The law does not set a maximum number of overtime hours.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government set occupational safety and health standards that were current and appropriate for its industries.

The Ministry of Labor was responsible for minimum wage, work hour, and health and safety standards. According to a union official, the government does not have sufficient inspectors to enforce compliance as effectively as they should. The ministry used routine inspections, accident investigations, and union membership surveys to monitor and prevent labor violations, and to verify that wages and working conditions met national standards. Penalties include small fines, imprisonment for up to three months, or both. These penalties were inadequate to ensure compliance. Penalties for occupational safety and health violations are higher than penalties for analogous violations, such as negligence.

Trade unions monitored safety problems to verify the enforcement of safety and health regulations, as well as the correction of problems by management. Labor inspectors are required during an inspection to notify employers of their presence, except where the inspectors consider that such a notification would impinge on the performance of their duties. The law gives inspectors the power to initiate proceedings against employers for any violation or offense.

The law provides for the right of workers to refuse dangerous work without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities generally protected employees in this situation. A labor union representative reported there were no formal complaints concerning hazardous or exploitative working conditions during the year nor did the union receive any complaints about workplace fatalities or accidents.

Informal Sector: An Inter-American Development Bank study estimated the informal economy in the country at approximately 33 percent of total economic activity. The informal economy was not subject to government labor or safety regulations. Informal workers may apply for public assistance or public housing but are not guaranteed any benefits.

Dominica

Executive Summary

Dominica is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. The prime minister is the head of government. The House of Assembly elects the president, who serves as the head of state. In the 2019 election, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Dominica Labour Party prevailed over the opposition United Workers Party by a margin of 18 seats to three. Election observers from the Organization of American States, United Nations, and Caribbean Community found the election generally free and fair.

The Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security oversees the police, the country’s only security force. The Financial Intelligence Unit reports to the Ministry of Legal Affairs; some of its officers have arrest authority. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no credible reports that members of the security forces committed significant abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: an alleged unlawful killing, the criminalization of libel, and the criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although there were no reported cases of enforcement during the year.

The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, but some cases remained unresolved. During the year the government did not open an official investigation into allegations of corruption.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There was one report that the government or its agents allegedly committed arbitrary or unlawful killings. In July the superintendent of police was charged with the murder of Kerwin Prosper, who died on February 15 while in police custody. The family alleged that while in police custody, Prosper was severely beaten by officers, ultimately causing his death. At year’s end several additional police officers remained under investigation for Prosper’s death.

b. Disappearance

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. There were no reports that impunity in the security forces was a significant problem.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

There were some reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns. In September the general secretary of the Dominica Public Service Union reported to media that the Dominica State Prison, the country’s sole prison, was understaffed.

Physical Conditions: There were no major concerns in the prison and detention centers regarding physical conditions or inmate abuse.

By September the number of COVID cases in the prison had exceeded the quarantine unit’s capacity. On September 28, employees of the prison conducted a protest action to express their concern regarding medical care and COVID prevention efforts for prisoners and staff.

Administration: Authorities investigated credible allegations of mistreatment.

Independent Monitoring: An independent committee composed of the chief welfare officer, justices of the peace, chaplains, youth welfare officers, social workers, and senior retired civil servants visited the prison monthly 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.

Improvements: During the year the prison created a quarantine unit with a capacity of 20 beds to safeguard other inmates from COVID-19. Prison officials upgraded facilities to include two virtual courtrooms and an area for visitors to speak with inmates by telephone. The prison expanded its carpentry training program for inmates. Additional fencing was constructed.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

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. The government generally observed these requirements.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Police used warrants issued by a judicial authority to apprehend persons. The law requires that authorities inform detainees of the reasons for their arrest within 24 hours and bring them to court within 72 hours. Authorities generally observed these requirements. If authorities are unable to bring a detainee to court within the requisite period, the person may be released and rearrested later. There was a functioning bail system. Criminal detainees had prompt access to counsel and family members. The state provides a lawyer for indigent defendants only in murder cases.

Pretrial Detention: Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem due to judicial staff shortages. According to prison management, prisoners remained on remand status for months or even years. An estimated 40 percent of inmates were awaiting trial.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

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 backlogs and other problems in the judicial system.

Trial Procedures

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; the ability to challenge prosecution or plaintiff witnesses; present their own witnesses and evidence; not be compelled to testify or confess guilt; and appeal.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There was an independent, impartial judiciary to which one may bring lawsuits seeking civil remedies for human rights abuses. Individuals and organizations may not 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.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media.

Libel/Slander Laws: Defamation is a criminal offense punishable by imprisonment or fines. There were no active defamation suits against local journalists. Media representatives reported that public and private threats of lawsuits were made against media outlets and individual reporters, leading to some self-censorship.

Internet Freedom

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

Clashes between police and protesters occurred during an April 12 demonstration by a group of bus drivers who blocked a public roadway to advocate against a rise in fuel prices and for COVID-19 stimulus relief. Witnesses reported to media that police used excessive force to break up the demonstrations by firing rubber bullets and beating, kicking, and choking protesters. On July 15, police filed charges of assault, battery, obstruction of justice, and resisting arrest against bus driver Esrome George, alleging George assaulted a member of the police force during the protest. George, who pled not guilty, maintained he was a victim of police brutality.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights. Individuals residing outside the Carib-Kalinago community must apply to the Carib Council for special access if they wish to live in the Kalinago Territory.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not Applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

No information was available on the government’s cooperation with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

Access to Asylum: The law provides for granting asylum and refugee status, but the government has not established systems for determining when to grant asylum or protect refugees.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In the 2019 general election, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Dominica Labour Party prevailed over the opposition United Workers Party by a margin of 18 seats to three. The Caribbean Community, Organization of American States, and UN election observers assessed the election as generally free, fair, and transparent.

In February more than 35 organizations were invited to make written submissions as part of an electoral reform process promised by the government. From April 26 to June 9, the public was invited to participate in a nationwide electoral reform survey, and in June the Dominica Business Forum provided recommendations from the private sector and civil society on electoral reform in the country. The opposition political party was consulted during the process. By year’s end a final report with electoral reform recommendations remained pending.

On March 9, the Caribbean Court of Justice dismissed an appeal filed by the government on behalf of ruling Dominica Labour Party (DLP) candidates who were successful in the 2014 elections and reinstated complaints filed against them for the charge of treating (providing free food and beverages) and bribery. In May, 12 elected DLP members pleaded not guilty to providing free concerts in the period preceding the 2014 election. On July 9, a magistrate dismissed the case after the director of public prosecution notified the court of her decision to discontinue the matter.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government implemented the law inconsistently. According to civil society representatives and members of the political opposition, officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices.

Corruption: In April the deputy labor commissioner was charged with nine fraud-related charges over accusations that he forged work permits and documentation for Haitian nationals in the country. The case had not gone to trial by year’s end.

Opposition leadership in the House of Assembly and some opposition-aligned local media raised allegations of corruption within the government, including in the Citizenship by Investment program.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Several domestic and international human rights and advocacy organizations generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were somewhat cooperative and responsive to their views.

At the June 24 the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America-Peoples’ Trade Treaty (ALBA-TCP) regional summit in Venezuela, Prime Minister Skerrit accused nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) of being used in attempts to overthrow democratically elected governments and stated, “We have to fight against NGOs to expose them because they are not friends of the peoples of this region.”

Government Human Rights Bodies: According to the constitution, a parliamentary integrity commissioner has responsibility for investigating complaints against the government.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men and women, including spousal rape, and the government enforced the law. Although the maximum sentence for sexual molestation (rape or incest) is 25 years’ imprisonment, the usual sentence was five to seven years. Whenever possible, female police officers handled rape cases involving female victims. Women were reluctant to report domestic violence to police. The only shelter for victims of gender-based violence remained closed after suffering damage during Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Civil society reported that sexual and domestic violence were common. According to civil society groups, the general population did not acknowledge gender-based violence and domestic violence as problems, but the government recognized these forms of violence as both problematic and prevalent. Although no specific laws criminalize spousal abuse, spouses may bring battery charges against their partner.

The law allows abused persons to appear before a magistrate without an attorney and request a protective order. Some persons requested protective orders.

Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment. Civil society groups reported it was a pervasive problem.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

Contraception was widely available. There were no legal barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage. The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence through the Ministry of Health’s Welfare Division and the National Council of Women. Other government departments, including the Bureau of Gender Affairs, Social Welfare Department, Adult Education Division, and Health Services and Housing Division, also assisted victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Survivors of sexual violence could access services from any public hospital, but emergency contraception for survivors of rape and incest was not routinely available.

Discrimination: The constitution provides women with the same legal rights as men. The government generally enforced the law effectively, but property deeds continued to be given to heads of households, who were usually men. The law requires equal pay for civil service positions, but not for other positions. Women and men generally received equal salaries for comparable jobs. Women are excluded from working in some industries, including mining, construction, energy, water, and transportation. No laws prohibit gender discrimination or sexual harassment in employment.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The constitution expressly prohibits discrimination based on sex, race, place of origin, political opinions, color, or creed. There were no reports of governmental or societal violence or discrimination against members of racial, ethnic, or national minorities during the year.

Indigenous Peoples

The population of the Kalinago (Carib) indigenous group was approximately 3,000, most of whom lived in the 3,782-acre Kalinago Territory. The government recognizes their special status, and the Kalinagos’ rights are protected in law and practice. The law establishes the Kalinago Territory and assigns management authority over the territory to the local council, which has veto power over new infrastructure projects in the territory. Some societal discrimination against the Kalinago existed, most notably against Kalinago children when they attended schools outside the territory. There was no secondary school inside the territory. During the year the government began or completed construction of more than 100 homes in five different locations for Kalinago residents.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory or to a citizen parent. Parents received birth certificates on a timely basis. Failure to register births resulted in denial of access to public services except emergency care.

Child Abuse: The law prohibits child abuse, but according to the government and civil society, it remained a pervasive problem. The government maintained a Child Abuse Prevention Unit responsible for protecting children from all forms of abuse. The unit supported victims by providing counseling, psychological assessments, and other services such as financial assistance to abused children and to family members.

Civil society representatives noted that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) children were at particular risk of abuse.

Underage children were often required to testify directly in court against their abusers, who were also physically present, instead of providing prerecorded testimony from more private and secure spaces. Additionally, cases sometimes wended through the court system for years, with children repeatedly being required to attend hearings. Publicly available lists of offenders did not exist. Advocates claimed that the justice system discouraged prosecution of child abuse, discouraged victims from seeking justice, and allowed repeat offenders to continue the cycle of abuse.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women, but marriage is permitted at age 16 with parental consent.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The age of consent for sexual relations is 16. The law prohibits using children for commercial sexual exploitation, including child sex trafficking, and related activity may be prosecuted under laws against prostitution or trafficking. The law protects all persons from “unlawful sexual connection,” rape, procurement for prostitution, and incest. It prohibits sexual intercourse between a child and an adult and increases the penalty to 25 years of imprisonment for an adult who rapes a child whom the adult employs or controls, or to whom the adult pays wages. The law criminalizes behaviors such as voyeurism.

The maximum sentence for sexual intercourse with a person younger than age 14 is 25 years in prison. When victims are ages 14 to 16, the maximum sentence is 14 years.

No laws or regulations explicitly prohibit the use of children in pornography or pornographic performances.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There is no organized Jewish community in the country, and there were no reports of discrimination or anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

There were no confirmed reports during the year that Dominica was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. There were no reports of discrimination against persons with disabilities. The government provided partial financial support for a civil society organization focused on advocating for and improving the lives of persons with disabilities.

There is no legal requirement mandating access to buildings for persons with disabilities. Few buildings, including public buildings, provided access for persons with physical disabilities.

Children with physical disabilities and those with hearing and vision disabilities were integrated into mainstream schools. The government provided stipends to cover educational expenses in private, segregated schools for children with intellectual or mental disabilities. Representatives of civil society organizations reported that accessibility problems existed in the physical environment of schools and with educational accommodations for persons with disabilities.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Reports from civil society indicated individuals with HIV feared job discrimination if their HIV status became public. This fear resulted in some patients not seeking medical treatment.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Consensual same-sex sexual conduct for both men and women is illegal under indecency statutes. The law also prohibits anal intercourse between males. The government reported it rarely enforced either statute, with no instances of the law being enforced through the end of November. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of 12 years in prison, and same-sex sexual conduct between consenting men carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, with the possibility of forced psychiatric confinement upon release.

No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics in employment, housing, education, or health care.

Anecdotal evidence suggested that strong societal and employment discrimination were common against persons due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics. Civil society representatives reported that LGBTQI+ victims of violence or harassment avoided notifying police of abuse because of social stigma and fear of harassment. Representatives further reported that in cases where police were notified of attacks against LGBTQI+ persons, police either rejected or poorly investigated some claims.

Civil society representatives reported that some LGBTQI+ individuals were denied access to housing, lost employment, were bullied in schools, or were denied educational and institutional support. Stigma and fear of abuse and intimidation prevented LGBTQI+ organizations from developing their membership or conducting activities such as Pride marches.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes; workers exercised these rights. Workers exercised the right to collective bargaining primarily in the nonagricultural sectors of the economy, including in the civil service. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination.

The government enforced applicable labor laws, and penalties were commensurate with those of other laws involving denial of civil rights such as discrimination. Employers must reinstate workers who file a complaint of illegal dismissal, pending review of the complaint, which can cover termination for engaging in union activities. When essential workers conducted strikes, generally they did not suffer reprisals. Employers generally reinstated or paid compensation to employees who obtained favorable rulings by the ministry following a complaint of illegal dismissal.

The law designates emergency, port, electricity, telecommunications, and prison services, as well as the banana, coconut, and citrus fruit cultivation industries, as “essential,” limiting the right to strike in those industries. The International Labor Organization noted the list of essential services is broader than international standards. The procedure for essential workers to strike is cumbersome, involving appropriate notice and submission of the grievance to the labor commissioner for possible mediation. Strikes in essential services can be subject to compulsory arbitration.

The government and employers generally respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The government generally enforced applicable laws, and penalties generally were sufficient to deter violations. Administrative and judicial procedures were not subject to lengthy delays or appeals, and there were no such problems during the year. Few disputes escalated to strikes or sickouts. A company, a union representative, or an individual may request mediation by the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security.

In recent years mediation by the Office of the Labour Commissioner in the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security resolved approximately 70 percent of strikes and sickouts, while the rest were referred to the Industrial Relations Tribunal for binding arbitration.

Small, family-owned farms employed most agricultural workers, and workers on such farms were not unionized.

In May Dominica State College faculty and staff took action over their grievances regarding the negotiation of a new collective bargaining agreement with the staff’s union to address discrepancies in their contracts. A few days later, Dominica Public Service Union representatives met with relevant authorities and reached an agreement since the government committed to address the workers’ concerns, which included salary reductions and unpaid wages.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution prohibits most forms of forced or compulsory labor, but the law does not prescribe penalties for forced labor. The law also does not criminalize forced labor except when it results from human trafficking. The government effectively enforced the law. The penalties were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes such as kidnapping.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits some of the worst forms of child labor, and in general the government effectively enforced these laws. The law provides for some limitations on age, safety conditions, and working hours, especially during the school year.

The legal minimum age of employment is 12 if children work in family-run businesses and farms, if the work does not involve selling alcohol. The law allows children aged 14 and older to work in apprenticeships and regular jobs that do not involve hazardous work. The law prohibits employing any child younger than age 16 during the school year but makes an exception for family-owned businesses. The law does not protect children from exploitative work outside of the school year, and the government has not determined the types of hazardous work prohibited for children. The country lacks prohibitions against the use of children in pornography or pornographic performances, and the use of children in illicit activities, including the production and trafficking of drugs.

There is no minimum age for hazardous work. While the government does not have a comprehensive list of hazardous work prohibited for children, the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security considers jobs such as mining and seafaring as hazardous. Additionally, children younger than age 18 are prohibited from working at night and from working on ships. Safety standards limit the type of work, conditions, and hours of work for children older than age 14, most of whom worked in services or hospitality.

Children may not work more than eight hours a day. The law provides for sentences to deter violations of child labor law, and the government generally enforced the law. The government did not perform comprehensive inspections; however, the laws and penalties generally were adequate to remove children from illegal child labor but with penalties less stringent than for analogous crimes such as kidnapping. Although research found no evidence that child labor existed, in 2020 the government made no advancement in efforts to prevent the worst forms of child labor.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/findings .

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The constitution specifically prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, place of origin, skin color, creed, or political opinion. The government generally enforced this provision. There are legal restrictions on employment of women in working at night and in certain industries such as mining, construction, factories, energy, water, and transportation. There were no government programs to prevent discrimination in the workplace and no penalties to deter violations.

Discrimination in employment and occupation occurred against women and persons with disabilities (see section 6). Discrimination occurred based on sexual orientation. The law permits employers to pay lower wages to persons with disabilities.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law establishes no universal minimum wage but instead sets base wages depending on the category of worker. No reliable recent data indicated whether average minimum wages were above or below the poverty level.

In September, following a multiyear review of the minimum wage across all wage categories, the government significantly increased the minimum wage for retail, service, agricultural, construction, and tourism workers, as well as for trainees. The government also created new categories with corresponding wage rates, including for workers in the hospitality and construction industries.

The law provides for overtime pay for work above the standard workweek of 40 hours. The law does not specifically prohibit forced or compulsory overtime. The law mandates that overtime wages be paid at a minimum of 1.5 times an employee’s standard wage and that the employee must give prior agreement to work overtime. There were no prosecutions reported for violations of overtime regulations.

Occupational Safety and Health: The law ensures occupational health and safety standards are consistent with international standards. Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment, and authorities effectively enforced this right.

Enforcement is the responsibility of the labor commissioner within the Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security. This enforcement includes the informal sector, where workers were not commonly unionized. Inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections, but the government did not enforce the law effectively. The penalties for violations were insufficient to ensure compliance.

Quarry workers faced hazardous conditions. Some reports claimed that workers entered mines before adequate time elapsed after blasting, which exposed them to hazardous chemicals.

There were no reported workplace accidents causing fatalities or major injuries during the year.

Informal Sector: The informal sector was a significant part of the economy, but credible data on the informal workforce were unavailable. No social protection was provided to persons in the informal sector beyond social security benefits for maternity leave, sickness, disability, or death. Domestic workers are not covered by labor law and do not receive social protections.

Grenada

Executive Summary

Grenada is a parliamentary democracy with a bicameral legislature. Observers considered the 2018 elections to be generally free and fair. In 2018 the New National Party won all 15 seats in the House of Representatives and selected Keith Mitchell as prime minister.

The Royal Grenada Police Force has responsibility for law enforcement and reports to the Ministry of National Security. The country does not have a military force but has a police special services unit that is like a military division. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no credible reports that members of the security forces committed abuses.

Significant human rights issues included the existence of laws criminalizing consensual sexual conduct between men, but the law was not enforced during the year.

The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses or engage in corrupt acts.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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 law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions were harsh due to gross overcrowding.

Physical Conditions: In August there were 365 prisoners, including six women, in the country’s sole penitentiary, which was designed for approximately 200 persons. In the male block, potable water was available in prison hallways but not in cells. Potable water was available in the cells on the female block.

Administration: There were no reports or allegations of mistreatment during the year. Authorities investigate all credible allegations of mistreatment.

Independent Monitoring: The Visiting Committee, appointed by the cabinet, serves as the independent monitoring committee. Monthly visits were conducted with administrative officials and to address inmate concerns, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic the committee was not allowed to visit cells but instead met with representatives from the inmate blocks and the administration. A Prison Rehabilitation Committee, composed of social workers and counselors, conducted independent monitoring of prison conditions. Human rights groups also visited the prison and provided independent monitoring. There were no significant findings of abuses during the year.

Improvements: The prison worked with the Magistrate Court to provide alternative forms of punishment and reduced sentences for petty crimes during the pandemic.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention and provides for the right of any person to challenge in court the lawfulness of his or her arrest or detention. The government generally observed these requirements.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

The law permits police to detain individuals on suspicion of criminal activity without a warrant, but police must bring formal charges within 48 hours. Authorities generally respected this limit. Authorities granted detainees access to a lawyer of their choice and family members within 24 hours of arrest. The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of detention within 15 days of arrest. Police must formally arraign or release a detained person within 60 days, and authorities generally followed these procedures. There is a functioning bail system, although persons charged with capital offenses are not eligible. A judge may set bail for detainees charged with treason only upon a recommendation from the governor general.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.

There is a presumption of innocence. The law protects individuals against self-incrimination. Individuals have the right to be informed promptly of the charges against them. The law requires police to explain a person’s rights upon arrest. Defendants have the right to a trial without undue delay, although case backlogs sometimes meant periods of several months to a year before a case went to trial. Trials are open to the public unless the charges are sexual in nature or a minor is involved. The law allows defendants the right to be present at their trial and to seek the advice of legal counsel. Defendants have the right for a defense lawyer to be present during interrogation and for the lawyer to advise the accused on how to respond to questions. Defendants and their counsel generally had adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense as well as free assistance of an interpreter. Defendants have the right to confront their accusers, present evidence, and call witnesses. Accused persons have the right to remain silent and to appeal.

The court appoints attorneys for indigents in cases of murder or other capital crimes. In appeals of criminal cases, the court appoints a lawyer if the defendant is unable to afford counsel. According to the Grenada Human Rights Organization, many defendants could not afford private legal counsel, and the government lacked adequate legal aid resources to meet the demand for free legal aid. With the exceptions of foreign-born drug-crime suspects or those charged with murder, the courts granted bail to most defendants awaiting trial.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters, including human rights violations. Defendants may appeal any High Court decision, including human rights decisions, to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The law provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent media, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media.

Libel/Slander Laws: Libel, slander, and defamation are criminal offenses. Government or public figures did not use these laws to restrict public discussion or retaliate against journalists or political opponents.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, and asylum seekers, as well as other persons of concern.

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status; however, the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees through UNHCR.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In the most recent general elections, held in 2018, the New National Party won all 15 seats in the House of Representatives, defeating the largest opposing party, the National Democratic Congress. The Organization of American States observer mission deemed the elections generally free and fair. There were no reports of abuses or irregularities.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No law limits participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. There were isolated allegations by the political opposition and some members of media regarding government corruption during the year, but none proved credible.

Corruption: There were no cases of government corruption or credible allegations of government corruption during the year.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Several domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials often were cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The Office of the Ombudsman has the authority to investigate complaints from individuals who object to government actions they deem unfair, abusive, illegal, discriminatory, or negligent.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence. It stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 30 years’ imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Authorities referred charges involving rape or related crimes for prosecution and generally enforced the law.

The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. The law allows for a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment, and authorities enforced the law. The Central Statistical Office reported cases of domestic violence against both women and men. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence. According to women’s rights monitors, violence against women and minors remained a serious and pervasive problem. The police and other government agents did not incite, perpetrate, or explicitly or implicitly condone gender-based violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there are no criminal penalties for it. The government noted it was a persistent problem. Some employers took steps to educate employees and reduce harassment, including through termination of employment in some cases. The Gender-based Violence Unit and Social Services within the Ministry of Social Development conducted awareness drives and worked with victims of sexual harassment

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

Contraception was widely available. There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs created cultural barriers to contraception usage.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services for survivors of sexual violence, including emergency contraceptives, through Grenada Planned Parenthood. Emergency contraceptives were also available to victims at pharmacies and clinics throughout the county. Counseling and other services were provided through the Ministry of Social Development. The Ministry of Social Development, the Gender-based Violence Unit, Social Services, and the Grenada Planned Parenthood Association assisted victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

Discrimination: Women generally enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, and nationality laws, as well as laws related to labor, property, inheritance, employment, access to credit, and owning or managing businesses or property. The law mandates equal pay for equal work. The law does not provide for civil or criminal penalties for sexual harassment in employment. There was no evidence of formal discrimination in such areas as marriage, divorce, child custody, education, the judicial process, and other institutions, including housing, although the law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender for access to credit. The government enforced the law effectively.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The law provides for the prosecution of any individual who perpetrates any act of racial or ethnic violence against minorities or persons in general. The government enforced the law effectively.

There were no reports of any governmental or societal violence or discrimination against members of racial, ethnic, or national minorities. Police and other government agents did not incite, perpetuate, condone, or tolerate such violence or abuse.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from birth in the country or, if abroad, by birth to a Grenadian parent upon petition. All births were promptly registered.

Child Abuse: The law stipulates penalties ranging from five to 15 years’ imprisonment for those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim’s alleged “consent” as a defense in cases of incest. Government social service agencies reported cases of child abuse, including physical and sexual abuse, and had programs to combat child abuse. Authorities placed abused children in either a government-run home or private foster homes.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 21, although persons as young as 18 may be married with parental consent in writing.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of all children, including prohibiting the posting and circulation of child pornography on the internet. The law also prohibits the importation, sale, and public display of pornography. The law prohibits sale and trafficking of children for commercial sex, for the production of pornography, or for pornographic performances. The government enforced the law. The minimum age of consensual sex is 16. A statutory rape law applies when the victim is age 15 or younger. The penalty is 30 years’ imprisonment if the victim is younger than 13 and 15 years’ imprisonment if the victim is age 13 to 15. The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of all children and was enforced. The penalties are commensurate with the penalties for rape and sufficient to deter the crime.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There was a small Jewish community. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

There were no confirmed reports during the year that Grenada was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.

Persons with Disabilities

Discrimination against persons with disabilities is generally prohibited, and there were no reports of discrimination against persons with disabilities. Although the law does not mandate access to public transportation, services, or buildings, building owners increasingly incorporated accessibility features during new construction and renovations. The government provided accommodations in public schools for children with disabilities; however, most parents chose to send children with disabilities to separate special education schools, believing those schools offered better conditions for learning.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

HIV and HIV-related stigma and discrimination were not concerns in employment, housing, or for access to education and health care. It was not uncommon, however, for family members to shun persons with HIV or AIDS.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual sexual conduct between men and provides penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The government did not enforce the law. The law makes no provision for sexual conduct between women.

No laws specifically prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education, health care, access to government services, and essential goods and services against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity. There were no reports that police or other government agents incited, perpetrated, condoned, or tolerated violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) individuals or those reporting on such abuse. There were also no reports of involuntary or coercive medical or psychological practices specifically targeting LGBTQI+ individuals.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of workers to form and join independent labor unions, participate in collective bargaining, and, with some restrictions, conduct legal strikes. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination. If an employee is terminated for union activity, the employee may bring his or her case to the court, and if the court supports this finding, the court may require the reinstatement of the employee or compensation to the employee. The law requires employers to recognize a union in a particular business only if most of the workforce belongs to the union.

While workers in essential services have the right to strike, the labor minister may refer disputes involving essential services to compulsory arbitration. The government’s list of essential services includes electricity, water, public-health sectors, sanitation, airports, air traffic, seaports, pilotage, dock services, fire departments, telephone and telegraph companies, prisons, police, hospital services, and nursing. Several of these services are not regarded as essential by the International Labor Organization.

The government respected freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. Employers generally recognized and bargained with unions.

The government generally enforced labor laws. Penalties were commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination. Administrative and judicial procedures related to labor were subject to lengthy delays and appeals.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor and specifically prohibits the sale or trafficking of children for exploitive labor. The law criminalizes the use of force, threats, abuse of power, and other forms of coercion for trafficking. The law does not sufficiently prohibit the trafficking of children, despite establishing stricter penalties for traffickers of children, because it requires the use of coercion for trafficking to be considered an offense. The government effectively enforced the law, and the penalties were commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as kidnapping.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The statutory minimum age for employment of children is 16 years. The law allows holiday employment for children younger than 16 under the supervision of their parents but does not specify types of work or number of hours permitted for such work. The law permits employment of children younger than 18 if employers meet certain conditions set forth in the labor code related to hours, insurance, and working conditions. There is no explicit prohibition against children’s involvement in hazardous work.

Inspectors from the Ministry of Labor enforced the minimum age provisions in the formal sector through periodic checks. Enforcement in the informal sector was insufficient, specifically for family farms. Penalties were commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as kidnapping.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/findings .

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law prohibits discrimination with respect to employment or occupation based on race, color, national origin, religion, political opinion, gender, age, or disability. The law does not prohibit discrimination in employment or occupation based on language, HIV status or other communicable diseases, sexual orientation, or gender identity. While there is no penalty for these types of discrimination, authorities stated that the country adhered to International Labor Organization guidelines and standards. In general the law and regulations were effectively enforced in collaboration with the Labor Commissioner’s Office within the Ministry of Labor. Penalties were commensurate to laws related to civil rights, such as election interference.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a national minimum wage for various categories of employment, which was above the poverty income rate.

The law provides for a 40-hour workweek with eight-hour days, except for clerical and shop assistants who have 44-hour workweeks, domestic workers who have a limit of 10-hour workdays, and security guards or shift workers who have a limit of 12 hours of work per day.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets health and safety standards. Occupational safety and health (OSH) standards were appropriate for the main industries in the country. Experts actively identified unsafe conditions and responded to workers’ complaints, particularly during the pandemic. Workers may remove themselves from situations endangering health or safety without jeopardizing their employment if they reasonably believe the situation presents an imminent or serious danger to life or health.

Enforcement involving wages, hours, occupational safety, and other elements is the responsibility of the Ministry of Labor. Labor inspectors are responsible for the full range of labor rights inspections, including workplace safety and the right to organize. Ministry of Labor officers worked with employers in sectors such as energy, agriculture, and construction to promote appropriate clothing, health checks, and pesticide safety.

The government effectively enforced minimum wage requirements and reported no violations of the law concerning working hours. The government generally enforced OSH regulations. There were no major industrial accidents during the year.

The government informally encouraged businesses to rectify OSH violations without resorting to formal channels for compliance that included fines and penalties. The government provided no information on the amount the law sets for OSH fines or other penalties.

Informal Sector: The government defined the informal sector as self-employed persons who do not declare their assets or pay income taxes, such as street vendors, farmers, and domestic and construction workers. There were no data on the number or percentage of individuals in this sector, but they were protected by OSH laws and occasionally received assistance through government social programs.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Executive Summary

Saint Kitts and Nevis is a multiparty parliamentary democracy and federation. The prime minister is the head of government. The United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, represented by a governor general. The constitution provides the smaller island of Nevis considerable powers of self-governance under a premier. In 2020 national elections, Team Unity, a coalition of three political parties, won nine of the 11 elected seats in the legislature. Team Unity leader Timothy Harris was reselected prime minister for a second term. A Caribbean Community observation mission assessed that the elections were free and fair.

The security forces consist of a police force, which includes the paramilitary Special Services Unit, a drug unit, the Special Victims Unit, the Office of Professional Standards, and a white-collar crimes unit. These forces are responsible for internal security, including migration and border enforcement. Police report to the Ministry of National Security, which is under the prime minister’s jurisdiction. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were few credible reports that members of the security forces committed abuses.

Significant human rights issues included the continued criminalization of same-sex sexual conduct between men, although the law was not enforced during the year.

There were no reports of prosecutions or arrests of government officials for human rights violations during the year, but authorities stated they took appropriate measures to discipline officials when necessary. The government generally implemented effectively the law criminalizing official corruption.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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. There was one report that government officials allegedly arrested a suspect in a degrading manner. In February a photograph and videos on social media in Nevis with images of a man lying face down in a drain and a law enforcement officer standing on the upper part of his back, seemingly to make an arrest. Authorities investigated the incident and stated they had taken appropriate disciplinary measures.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prisons were slightly overcrowded, and facilities were austere.

Physical Conditions: The country has two prisons with a total capacity of 160 inmates. The total prison population on St. Kitts was 179 in July, including pretrial detainees, who were confined with convicted prisoners. Most prisoners had beds, although some slept on blankets on the floor. Inmates between ages 16 and 21 were held with adult prisoners.

Administration: Authorities generally investigated credible allegations of mistreatment.

Independent Monitoring: Authorities generally permitted prison visits by independent human rights observers, although there were no known visits during the year.

Improvements: During the year authorities repainted and renovated some cells and installed new air-conditioning units. Barracks were constructed for staff.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution 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. The government generally observed these requirements.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

Police may arrest a person without a warrant, based on the suspicion of criminal activity. The law requires that detained persons be charged within 72 hours or be released. If detainees are charged, authorities must bring them before a court within 72 hours of detention. There is a functioning bail system. Detainees have prompt access to a lawyer of their choice or to a lawyer provided by the state. The government provides free defense counsel to indigent defendants only in capital cases. There is a private legal-aid program to provide legal assistance to indigent defendants. Authorities permitted family members, attorneys, and clergy to visit prisoners once per month and to visit those in pretrial confinement once per week.

Authorities remand persons accused of serious offenses to custody to await trial. They release those accused of minor infractions on their own recognizance or on bail with sureties.

Pretrial Detention: Pretrial detainees were 30 percent of the prison population. The length of time a person was held in pretrial detention varied. The government did not report on the average length of pretrial detention. Nongovernmental organization (NGO) representatives, however, reported pretrial detentions of six to nine months for High Court (serious offenses) cases.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The constitution provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. There is a presumption of innocence. Defendants have the right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges and to have a fair and public trial without undue delay. Defendants have the right to be present at their trial and to consult an attorney of their choice in a timely manner. Defendants have adequate time to prepare a defense. Defendants have free access to an interpreter. Defendants may question or confront witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence. Defendants may not be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and they have a right to appeal. On March 4, the federal parliament passed three bills aimed at strengthening the judicial process. The attorney general and minister of justice and legal affairs stated the bills confer jurisdiction on the chief justice to make criminal procedure rules for the Magistrate’s Court and would reduce backlogs within the criminal justice system, reduce the time persons wait for trial, and provide for alternate jurors.

To lower the number of cases that go to trial, in May the government conducted a mediation training session for 26 persons to instruct them in conflict resolution.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent and impartial judiciary for civil matters. Individuals or organizations may seek civil remedies for human rights violations through domestic courts and the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judicial system, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of the media.

Internet Freedom

The government did not restrict or disrupt access to the internet or censor online content, and there were no credible reports that the government monitored private online communications without appropriate legal authority.

Academic Freedom and Cultural Events

There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights. Civil servants are restricted from participating in protests.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not Applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

Information on the government’s cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was unavailable.

Access to Asylum: While the law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status, the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees. There were no requests for asylum reported during the year.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage. Voters elect 11 members of the National Assembly, and the governor general appoints a three-person senate: two on the recommendation of the prime minister and one on the recommendation of the opposition leader.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: Team Unity, a coalition of the People’s Action Movement and the People’s Labor Party in St. Kitts, and the Concerned Citizens Movement in Nevis, won nine of the 11 elected seats in the legislature in the June 2020 national elections. Team Unity leader Timothy Harris was reselected prime minister for a second term. The opposition St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) won two seats in the election.

Five unsuccessful SKNLP candidates filed petitions in the High Court challenging the results of the June 2020 general elections in the constituencies in which they ran. Citing a lack of independent observers, the SKNLP leader alleged the government had an unfair political advantage, since the elections were held during a COVID-19-related state of emergency. A Caribbean Community observation mission assessed that “the voters were able to cast their ballots without intimidation or fear and that the results of the 5 June 2020 General Elections reflect the will of the people of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.”

The island of Nevis exercises considerable self-governance with its own premier and legislature, and it has the right to secede from the federation. There were no local elections during the year.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate. The first woman to lead a political party in the country was elected president of the Nevis Reformation Party in September 2020.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented the law effectively. Media and private citizens reported government corruption was occasionally a problem.

Corruption: Members of the opposition expressed concern regarding the lack of financial oversight of revenues generated by the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program. During the year the government held bilateral consultations to discuss best practices and improve the security of the CBI program. The government did not publicize the number of passports issued through CBI or the nationalities of the passport holders.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

The country had a small number of domestic human rights groups that generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies: The Ministry of Health maintained a human rights desk to monitor discrimination and other human rights abuses beyond the health sector.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law classifies sexual violence, rape, and incest as serious offenses, protects victims of domestic violence, and establishes penalties for perpetrators. The government enforced the law. The law prohibits rape of women but does not address spousal rape. The law utilizes an “unnatural offenses” statute to address male rape. Penalties for rape range from two years’ imprisonment for incest between minors to life imprisonment. Indecent assault has a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. There is no statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual offenses.

Court cases and anecdotal evidence suggested that rape, including spousal rape, was a problem. On July 7, on Saint Kitts and Nevis Information Service’s television program Working for You, members of the Special Victims Unit of the police force discussed issues related to domestic violence and abuse affecting individuals across the country. The head of the unit indicated there was no increase in rape cases, compared with the previous period of COVID-19 restrictions. In July the constable in charge of investigations at the unit publicly noted men who were being abused struggled to disclose abuse due to a perceived stigma.

Violence against women was a serious and underreported problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including emotional abuse, and provides for a fine or six months in prison. The government enforced the law. Advocates indicated they believed the true number of incidences was likely higher than reported but that many victims were reluctant to file reports due to the belief that they would not be protected or that their abusers would not be prosecuted. In July the prime minister publicly committed to provide additional resources to the Ministry of Social Development to help prevent abuse and give victims a greater sense of empowerment and independence.

In March the Department of Gender Affairs announced the development of a UNESCO-funded National Gender Equality Policy and Action Plan to assist the government in facilitating gender equality and empowerment.

Sexual Harassment: The law does not explicitly prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment cases are instead prosecuted under the Protection of Employment Act. The press reported that sexual harassment occurred in the workplace.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

Contraception was widely available. There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage. Survivors of sexual violence could access services from any public hospital. Emergency contraception was available with a doctor’s prescription as part of clinical management of rape.

Discrimination: The law provides women the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status and nationality laws, as well as in property, inheritance, employment, and owning or managing a business. In the labor sector, women are legally restricted from working in some industries, including mining, construction, factories, energy, and water. No law prohibits gender-based discrimination in access to credit. The law requires equal remuneration, and women and men generally received equal salaries for comparable jobs. The government effectively enforced the law.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The constitution expressly prohibits discrimination based on race, place of origin, birth out of wedlock, political opinions or affiliations, color, and sex or creed.

There were no reports of governmental or societal violence or discrimination against members of racial, ethnic, or national minorities during the year. There were no reports of disproportionate access to education.

Children

Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship by birth in the country, and all children are registered at birth. Children born abroad to citizen parents may be registered by either parent.

Child Abuse: Child abuse is illegal but was a problem. According to the government, neglect was the most common form of abuse, while physical abuse, including sexual molestation, occurred. The Special Victims Unit investigated allegations of physical and sexual abuse, domestic violence, juvenile abuse, and crimes against children. The unit worked closely with the Department of Probation and Child Protection Services when there were juvenile-related matters and the Department of Gender Affairs when there were cases of domestic violence. In child abuse cases, the law allows children to testify against their alleged attackers using remote technologies such as Skype. Other solutions, such as placing a physical barrier in the courtroom, were also employed to protect victims. The Ministry of Social Services and the Ministry of Education regularly collaborated on programs to curb child abuse.

The St. Christopher Children’s Home served abused and neglected children; it received funding and logistical support from the government.

The government offered counseling for both adult and child victims of abuse.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women. Underage marriage was rare.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children, and it was generally enforced. Child pornography is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison. NGO representatives reported that sexual exploitation and molestation of children were problems. NGO representatives also reported that adolescent transactional sex was an occasional problem. The age of consent for sexual relations is 16. Having sexual relations with children younger than age 16 is illegal.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There was no organized Jewish community, and members of the Jewish faith reported there were no anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

There were no confirmed reports during the year that St. Kitts and Nevis was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination, particularly with access to buildings and public transportation. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but it was not consistently enforced. Children with disabilities attended school, although some parents of students with disabilities preferred to have their child stay at home. There was a segregated school for students with disabilities. Many local schools accommodated students with physical disabilities. In July the prime minister announced the government would provide a stipend to households with disabled children through the end of the year. As of the end of August, 118 applications were approved for assistance through the disability support initiative.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

The law prohibits discrimination based on a person’s HIV status; however, societal discrimination occurred against persons with HIV or AIDS. The Ministry of Labor enforced a specific antidiscrimination policy covering HIV and AIDS in the workplace. In February the national HIV/AIDS and Program coordinator and other health officials publicly advocated for decriminalizing homosexuality as “critical to combatting HIV/AIDS” and noted that a person’s HIV status is categorized as personal medical information and deserves the right to be kept private and confidential at all times.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct among men under an “unnatural offenses” statute that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. There were no reports the government enforced the law in recent years.

No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity in matters regarding essential goods and services and access to government services, such as health care.

The government stated it received no reports of violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation, but some observers suggested there was underreporting due to negative societal attitudes.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

Labor laws and procedures are the same in St. Kitts and in Nevis.

The law provides for the right to form and join independent unions or staff associations. Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining were generally respected in practice. The law permits police, civil servants, hotels, construction workers, and small businesses to organize staff associations. Staff associations do not have bargaining powers but are used to network and develop professional standards. A union representing more than 50 percent of the employees at a company may apply for the company to recognize the union for collective bargaining. Companies generally recognized the establishment of a union if a majority of its workers voted in favor of organizing the union, but the companies are not legally obliged to do so.

In practice, but not by law, there were restrictions on strikes by workers who provide essential services, such as police and civil servants. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination but does not require employers found guilty of such discrimination to rehire employees fired for union activities. The International Labor Organization provided technical assistance to the government in labor law reform, labor administration, employment services, labor inspection, and occupational safety and health. The government effectively enforced applicable laws, and penalties were commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination. The Ministry of Labor provided employers with training on their rights and responsibilities.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The constitution prohibits slavery, servitude, and forced labor. The government did not report any cases of involuntary servitude. The government effectively enforced applicable laws, and penalties were commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law prohibits the worst forms of child labor, and a Special Victims Unit, led by the Child Protection Services and police, investigated violations. The law sets the minimum age for work at 16. Prohibitions do not apply to family businesses. Children ages 16 and 17 have the same legal protections from dangerous work conditions as all workers. The law permits children from the ages of 16 to 18 to work regular hours. Employment of children from the ages of 16 to 18 in certain industries related to the hotel and entertainment sectors is restricted. The government effectively enforced the applicable laws, and penalties were commensurate with those for analogous crimes. Most children younger than age 16 with jobs worked after school in shops and supermarkets or did light work in the informal sector.

The Ministry of Labor relied heavily on school truancy officers and the Community Affairs Division to monitor compliance with child labor laws, which they did effectively. The ministry reported that investigations were frequent and that violators were referred to the Social Security Office for enforcement.

In February the country joined regional member states of the International Labor Organization in the launch of the International Year for the Elimination of Child Labor in the Americas, under the theme #EndChildLabour2021. During a February 11 press conference, the minister of labor stated that child labor practices were nonexistent in the country, but “our Federation was, nevertheless, obligated to do its part in spreading the message that child labor is fundamentally wrong and should be brought to an end.”

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law and regulations prohibit discrimination based on race, sex, gender, language, HIV-positive status or other communicable diseases, sexual orientation, gender identity, or social status. The law stipulates any employer who wrongfully terminates an employee can be fined to cover the cost of employee benefits. The government effectively enforced discrimination laws and regulations, and penalties were commensurate to those for laws related to civil rights, such as election interference.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The national minimum wage for all sectors of the economy was above the estimated poverty income level. The law does not prohibit excessive or compulsory overtime, but policy calls for employers to inform employees if they have to work overtime. Although not required by law, workers generally received at least one 24-hour rest period per week.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government sets occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that were outdated but appropriate for the country’s main industries. Workers could remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in this situation. The law also requires employers to report accidents and dangerous incidents. The government effectively enforced OSH laws, and penalties were commensurate with those for similar crimes, such as fraud. Labor inspectors have the authority to make unannounced inspections and make recommendations.

The Labor Commission settles disputes over OSH conditions. The office conducts regular workplace inspections. Violators are subject to fines, and repeat offenders are subject to prosecution. The commission undertook wage inspections and special investigations when it received complaints. If the commission found that employers violated wage regulations, penalties were generally sufficient to encourage compliance. The government reported there were no violations resulting in arrests or prosecutions.

Informal Sector: The Ministry of Labor relied primarily on worker complaints to initiate inspections of facilities using informal labor. The number of labor inspectors was sufficient to enforce compliance. During the COVID-19 pandemic, labor inspectors were part of the National COVID-19 Compliance Task Force. The Social Security Office was responsible for registering informal workers and businesses.

Saint Lucia

Executive Summary

Saint Lucia is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. On July 26, in elections considered free and fair by outside observers, the Saint Lucia Labour Party won 13 of the 17 seats in the House of Assembly, defeating the previously ruling United Workers Party. Two seats were won by independent candidates. Philip J. Pierre was named the new prime minister.

The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force has responsibility for law enforcement and maintenance of order within the country. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included credible reports of criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although laws against such conduct were not enforced.

The government took steps to prosecute officials and employees who committed abuses. In August the new government announced it will appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of corruption.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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, but prisoners and suspects continued to complain of physical abuse by police and prison officers.

Impunity was not a significant problem in the security forces. The government launched independent inquiries into allegations of abuse. The limited transparency into official investigations sometimes created a perception among civil society and government officials of impunity for the accused officers.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Persistent overcrowding and prison violence were noted during the year.

Physical Conditions: The Bordelais Correctional Facility was overcrowded; at one point the facility (designed for a maximum capacity of 500 inmates) held 549 inmates. More recent press reporting indicated the inmate population dropped to 484. A spate of three fatalities within a month – including one homicide – raised concerns regarding the safety of those held at Bordelais. In February inmates rioted to protest long trial delays and conditions at the facility, including inadequate measures to control the spread of COVID-19. Following the riot, an internal review was undertaken, and inmates subsequently received disposable masks and hand sanitizer. In September one inmate who had been declared medically unfit to stand trial and “held at the court’s pleasure” (an indefinite sentence) was killed in prison.

Administration: Authorities investigated allegations of mistreatment. A five-member board of visiting justices reviewed complaints from prisoners.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. Prison monitoring was typically done by local, regional, and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), although no independent visits occurred during the year due to COVID-19 restrictions.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

The constitution 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. The government generally observed these requirements. In April press reported that a local campaign manager for one candidate of the country’s then opposition party was detained on suspicion of organizing an illegal protest that violated national COVID-19 protocols. She was subsequently released without charge.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

The constitution stipulates authorities must apprehend persons openly with warrants issued by a judicial authority. The law requires a court hearing within 72 hours of detention. Authorities allowed detainees prompt access to counsel and family. There was a functioning bail system.

Pretrial Detention: Prolonged pretrial detention was a significant problem. As of October those awaiting trial represented more than 70 percent of the inmate population. Individuals charged with serious crimes often spent between six months and six years in pretrial detention. The oldest case awaiting trial dated to 2006 and was set to be heard in January 2022.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Defendants have the right to the presumption of innocence, prompt and detailed information about charges, and a fair and public trial without undue delay. They have the right to be present at their own trial; communicate with an attorney of their choice; have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense; receive free assistance of an interpreter as needed; confront prosecution or plaintiff witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence; not be compelled to testify or confess guilt; and appeal. Attorneys are provided at public expense to indigent defendants only if the charge is murder.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners and detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent, impartial judiciary in civil matters where 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. Individuals and organizations may present petitions to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The constitution prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The constitution provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights.

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The constitution and law provide for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

Married, widowed, or divorced women, as well as women who are naturalized citizens, must fill out additional information on passport applications that is not required of men regardless of marital status or their path to citizenship.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern. The government assisted the safe, voluntary return of refugees to their home countries.

Access to Asylum: The law does not specifically provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status, and the government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The constitution provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In July the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) defeated the United Workers Party, winning 13 of 17 parliamentary seats, and SLP leader Philip J. Pierre became prime minister. Independent candidates won seats, albeit in districts not contested by the SLP. Elections experts from the Organization of American States, Caribbean Community, and the Commonwealth observed the elections at the government’s invitation; they reported that the elections were generally free and fair.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit the participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the government generally implemented these laws, but not always effectively. There were isolated reports of government corruption during the year.

Corruption: There were no developments in any major corruption cases.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Domestic human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were generally cooperative and responsive to their views.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, which is punishable by 14 years’ to life imprisonment. The law criminalizes spousal rape only when a couple is divorced or separated or when there is a protection order from the Family Court. Authorities generally enforced the law. Roungement – the practice of parents accepting monetary compensation to settle rape and sexual assault cases out of court – is prohibited by law but was commonly practiced and rarely prosecuted.

The law prohibits sexual assault; nevertheless, it was underreported and not always prosecuted. High-level government officials supported strengthening family-law legislation and avenues of recourse for victims of gender-based violence.

Domestic violence remained a significant problem. While police were willing to arrest offenders, the government prosecuted crimes of violence against women only when the victim pressed charges. In July the Department of Gender Relations, with the assistance of the UN Population Fund, adopted and implemented procedures for gender-based violence referrals to improve access to professional services, up-to-date information, and timely referrals in both emergency and nonemergency situations.

The law provides for five years to life of incarceration for those convicted of domestic violence, and the law was generally enforced. Shelters, a hotline, and detailed national policies for managing domestic violence were available, but victims lacking financial security were often reluctant to remove themselves from abusive environments. Police faced problems such as a lack of transportation that at times prevented them from responding to calls in a timely manner. The NGO Saint Lucia Crisis Center received monthly government funding. It maintained a facility for female victims of domestic violence and their children and a hotline for support. The center reported that it was unable to meet the needs of all victims seeking assistance and that donations and fundraising activities had declined due to the negative economic impact of COVID-19.

The Department of Gender Relations operated the Women’s Support Center, a small residential facility for victims of domestic abuse. The crisis center reported that persons requesting counseling services often lacked funds to access either physical or virtual services because they could not afford public transportation or internet services. The center received referrals from government, the prison, and school counselors but had limited resources to meet the needs of all persons in need of services.

The Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development assisted victims of domestic violence. Authorities referred most cases to a counselor, and police facilitated the issuance of court protection orders in several cases. The Department of Gender Relations operated several gender-based violence prevention programs in schools and through community-based groups.

The Family Court hears cases of domestic violence and crimes against women and children. The court can issue a protection order prohibiting an abuser from entering or remaining in the residence of a specified person. The court remands perpetrators to an intervention program for rehabilitation. The court employed full-time social workers to assist victims of domestic violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but sexual harassment remained a problem. Government enforcement was not an effective deterrent. Most cases of sexual harassment were handled in the workplace rather than prosecuted under the law.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities. Contraception, including emergency contraception, was widely available for those age 18 or older. There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage.

The maternal death rate for 2017 was 117 deaths per 100,000 live births, which was the most recent available information. This rate, as with many suboptimal health outcomes, was due to broader problems in the health-care system.

Survivors of sexual violence could access services from any of the public hospitals and wellness centers and from the Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association. Various divisions of the government worked together to assist victims of sexual and gender-based violence, including through the Ministry of Health’s Department of Social Services, Ministry of Education’s Department of Gender Relations, and the police Special Victims Unit.

There were no apparent legal or social barriers related to menstrual health that impacted the ability of women and girls to participate equally in society or to access educational opportunities. Economic barriers existed, however, leading one NGO to continue its campaign to provide hygiene products to lower-income women and providing education beyond the “brief” discussion of menstruation in the national school curriculum.

Discrimination: The law generally provides the same legal status and rights for women and men. The law requires equal pay for equal work. Women were underrepresented in the labor force, had higher levels of unemployment than men, sometimes received lower pay, and sometimes faced additional informal hurdles to gaining access to credit. The law provides for the equal treatment of women with respect to family property, nationality, and inheritance. The foreign husband of a Saint Lucian woman does not automatically receive Saint Lucian citizenship, but the foreign wife of a Saint Lucian man does.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

There were no reports of systemic racial or ethnic violence and discrimination. The country is racially homogeneous; in the latest (2010) census, 96 percent of residents identified as being of full or partial African descent. Members of other communities, such as citizens of East Indian or Middle Eastern descent, had an equal role in society.

Children

Birth Registration: Children receive citizenship by birth to a parent with citizenship. Authorities provided birth certificates without undue administrative delay.

Child Abuse: The law prohibits all forms of child abuse, but child abuse remained a problem. The Department of Human Services and Family Affairs handled cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, and psychological abuse.

Although the government condemned the practice, parents of sexually abused children sometimes declined to press sexual assault charges against the abuser in exchange for the abuser’s financial contributions toward the welfare of the victim. Nonetheless, courts heard some child sexual abuse cases, convicted offenders, and sentenced them.

The Human Services Division provided services to victims of child abuse, including providing homes for severely abused and neglected children, counseling, facilitating medical intervention, finding foster care, providing family support services, and supporting the child while the child was cooperating with police and attending court. The crisis center reported an increase in child abuse cases and behavioral problems among children. They also reported an increase in sexualization of children and an increase in depression and suicidal thoughts among children since COVID-19.

A local NGO reported that lack of counseling, a lack of proper rehabilitation and reintegration policies, poor processes and procedures, and a lack of clarity of the new juvenile justice law were the main human rights issues impacting minors.

An NGO reported that the Boys Training Center, the main juvenile detention facility, was ill-equipped and housed juvenile offenders together with juveniles under state care and protection. The NGO received reports that physical, emotional, sexual, and psychological abuses were frequently perpetrated by staff at the center. An NGO representative said the permanent secretary of social justice, who had direct jurisdiction and responsibility for the facility, and the government failed to carry out a comprehensive investigation and hold employees accountable for abuse of state wards. The representative also reported a lack of proper facilities and staff for juvenile offenders, including having no teachers at the Boys Training Center.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for men and women, but 16 with parental consent.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Laws on sexual offenses cover rape, unlawful sexual contact, and unlawful sexual intercourse with children younger than age 16. The age of consent is 16, but a consent defense may be cited if the victim is between ages 12 and 16. The law prohibits sex trafficking of children younger than 18. No law defines or specifically prohibits child pornography. The government did enforce laws on sexual offenses against children, including through a police team that focused solely on sexual crimes, including sexual crimes involving children. For example, in April a male relative was arrested for the sexual abuse of a child who was found chained in a house.

An NGO reported a lack of social protection systems to assist vulnerable children, while another NGO received frequent reports of child sexual and physical abuse, including reports of staff abusing juveniles in juvenile detention facilities.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There was a small organized Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

Persons with Disabilities

The law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. Government regulations require access for persons with disabilities to all public buildings, but only a few government buildings had access ramps. Persons with disabilities have the right to vote, but many polling stations were inaccessible for voters with impaired mobility.

The Ministry of Health operated a community-based rehabilitation program in residents’ homes.

Children with physical and visual disabilities were sometimes mainstreamed into the wider student population. There were schools available for persons with developmental disabilities and for children who were hard of hearing, deaf, blind, or visually impaired. Children with disabilities faced barriers in education, and there were few employment opportunities for adults with disabilities. NGOs reported they had no record, knowledge, or reports of children with disabilities being institutionalized in any of the state homes for juveniles.

While there were no reports of discrimination, civil society representatives reported difficulty obtaining data on discrimination.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

NGOs complained that government officials did not test persons held at state facilities, e.g., at the state psychiatric facility, for HIV. Civil society groups reported health-care workers occasionally did not maintain appropriate patient confidentiality with respect to HIV or AIDS status.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Civil society representatives reported widespread societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons. Some openly LGBTQI+ persons faced verbal harassment and physical abuse, including a reported public attack on a gay man walking in the street. Civil society groups reported LGBTQI+ persons were forced to leave public buses, denied jobs, or left jobs due to a hostile work environment.

The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual acts of “gross indecency” (defined as sexual acts other than intercourse) as well as “buggery” (consensual intercourse between men) with a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Attempted consensual sexual intercourse between men is punishable by five years in prison. None of these laws was enforced in practice.

The law does not extend antidiscrimination protections to sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics, with one exception in the context of employment (see section 7). The government funded NGOs that provided services to LGBTQI+ persons. Major gaps existed on LGBTQI+ topics, such as a lack of training and understanding of important LGBTQI+ matters. A lack of inclusive policy guidance allowed individual health providers or other service providers to deny services to LGBTQI+ persons based on the providers’ personal beliefs.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law specifies the right of most workers to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination, and workers fired for union activity have the right to reinstatement. Penalties were not commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination. The government did not effectively enforce the law.

The law restricts the right to strike and bargain collectively by police, corrections service, fire department, health service, and utilities (electricity, water, and telecommunications) on the grounds these organizations provide “essential services.” These workers must give 30 days’ notice before striking. Once workers have given notice, authorities usually refer the matter to an ad hoc labor tribunal set up under the Essential Services Act. The government selects tribunal members, following rules to ensure tripartite representation. These ad hoc tribunals try to resolve disputes through mandatory arbitration.

The government generally respected freedom of association, and employers generally respected the right to collective bargaining. Workers exercised the right to strike and bargain collectively. No move towards short-term contracts during the COVID-19 pandemic was reported either by the government or NGOs.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits forced labor and offers protection from slavery and forced labor; however, forced labor is not criminally prohibited unless it results from human trafficking. The government did not have written procedures to guide officials on the proactive identification and referral of trafficking victims.

The International Labor Organization noted with concern that the law allows for prisoners to be hired out to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies, and associations.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

Not all of the worst forms of child labor are prohibited. Although the criminal code prohibits the use of children in some illicit activities, such as prostitution, the use, procuring, or offering of a child younger than 18 for illicit activities, in particular for the production and trafficking of illegal drugs, is not criminally prohibited.

The law provides for a minimum legal working age of 15 once a child has finished the school year. The minimum legal age for industrial work is 18. The law provides special protections for workers younger than 18 regarding working conditions, and it prohibits hazardous work. There are no specific restrictions on working hours for those younger than 18. There is no comprehensive list of what constitutes hazardous work; however, the law prohibits children younger than 18 from working in industrial settings, including using machinery and working in extreme temperatures. Children ages 15 to 17 require a parent’s permission to work.

The Ministry for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour, and Gender Affairs is responsible for enforcing statutes that regulate child labor. The penalties were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as kidnapping, and the law were not effectively enforced.

There were no formal reports of violations of child labor laws, and the government did not report any investigations (see section 6, Children). Nevertheless, government officials, civil society, and educators suspected that children from poor families were vulnerable to unorganized commercial sexual exploitation and engaged in sexual activity in exchange for goods or services.

Also see the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/findings .

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

The law prohibits discrimination based on race, skin color, sex, religion, national extraction, social origin, ethnic origin, political opinion or affiliation, age, disability, serious family responsibility, pregnancy, marital status, and HIV or AIDS status. The law requires that men and women receive equal pay for equal work but sets different rates of severance pay for men and women. Although the law prohibits employers from terminating employees on the grounds of sexual orientation, civil society groups received reports of LGBTQI+ persons being denied jobs or leaving jobs due to a hostile work environment. There are no specific penalties for discrimination; penalties for discrimination are covered under the general penalties section of the labor code. The government did not effectively enforce applicable laws. Penalties were commensurate with laws related to civil rights.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: The law provides for a minimum wage for some sectors, including office clerks, shop assistants, and messengers. On average the sector-specific minimum wages were below the official poverty level.

The legislated workweek is 40 hours, with a maximum of eight hours per day. Special legislation covers work hours for shop assistants, agricultural workers, domestic workers, and industrial workers. Labor laws, including overtime rules and occupational health and safety standards, apply to all workers, whether in the formal or informal sector. The Department of Labour reported that some workers filed complaints regarding violations of regulations regarding work conditions, work hours, or minimum wages. The sectors in which violations typically occurred were manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail sales, restaurants, hotels, finance, insurance, and services, particularly private security services.

The labor code provides penalties that were not commensurate with those for similar crimes such as fraud, but the government effectively enforced the existing law. The Ministry for the Public Service, Home Affairs, Labour, and Gender Affairs was responsible for monitoring implementation of labor laws. Employers were generally responsive to ministry requests to address labor code violations, and authorities rarely levied fines.

Officers effectively monitored compliance with standards governing pensions, terminations, vacation, sick leave, contracts, and hours of work. Inspectors have the authority to initiate sanctions, institute proceedings before the tribunal, or hold informal inquiries when complaints are brought to their notice. There were no reported violations of wage laws, and most categories of workers received wages higher than minimum wage, based on prevailing market conditions. Labor unions reported in March that some employers used the COVID-19 pandemic to lay off and rehire workers at a lower salary for the same job. The government launched investigations following these reports.

Occupational Safety and Health: The government set occupational safety and health (OSH) standards that were current and appropriate. The government conducted OSH inspections, but the number of inspectors was not adequate to enforce compliance. Penalties for violations of OSH laws were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as negligence. Public-health measures due to COVID-19 limited or prevented some inspections. In September an inmate at the Bordelais correctional facility reportedly died from injuries sustained after a steam iron exploded in the tailor shop.

Workers could remove themselves from situations that endangered health or safety without jeopardy to their employment, and authorities effectively protected employees in these cases. In May the public service union expressed concern regarding the end of all alternative working arrangements (including remote work) in some government departments despite the absence of adequate arrangements to ensure the safety of workers during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The union advised workers to avoid situations that would be harmful to their wellbeing. The ministry’s labor department reported receiving 25 complaints regarding workplace health and safety. As of November, approximately one-half of the complaints were resolved.

Informal Sector: The informal sector was mainly made up of micro and small businesses and accounted for a large share of employment. It included a wide cross section of sectors, such as agriculture, manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail, transportation, accommodation, and other service activities. The government does not legally define or collect statistics on the informal economy, whose workers do not benefit from employment-related social protections.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

Executive Summary

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy. The prime minister is the head of the government. The United Kingdom’s Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state, represented by a governor general. On November 5, Ralph Gonsalves was elected to a fifth consecutive term as prime minister. Regional and local observers assessed the election as generally free and fair.

The Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police is the only security force in the country and is responsible for maintaining national security. Its forces include the Coast Guard, Special Services Unit, Rapid Response Unit, Drug Squad, and Antitrafficking Unit. Police report to the minister of national security, a portfolio held by the prime minister. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. There were credible reports that members of the security forces committed some abuses.

Significant human rights issues included the criminalization of libel and the criminalization of consensual same-sex conduct between men, which were not enforced during the year.

The government had mechanisms in place to identify and punish officials who may commit human rights abuses.

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

a. Arbitrary Deprivation of Life and Other Unlawful or Politically Motivated Killings

There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.

b. Disappearance

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 law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports the government employed them systematically.

Prison and Detention Center Conditions

Prison conditions were less than adequate, although they varied depending on the facility.

Physical Conditions: As of September, the prison population was 385. The two facilities for male prisoners were near capacity throughout the year. Limited prison capacity prevented authorities from segregating juvenile offenders, with offenders between the ages of 16 and 21 held with adult prisoners. Prisoners younger than age 16 were held in a separate facility. Female prisoners were held in a makeshift facility while construction of a women’s prison was underway.

Limited physical space and inadequate training for prison officials hindered accommodations for prisoners with disabilities.

Administration: Authorities investigated credible allegations of mistreatment.

Independent Monitoring: The government permitted monitoring by independent nongovernmental observers. No representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) visited or monitored the prisons during the year.

d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention

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. The government generally observed these requirements.

Arrest Procedures and Treatment of Detainees

The law requires a judicial authority to issue arrest warrants. The bail system was generally effective. Authorities generally gave detainees prompt access to a lawyer. For indigent detainees accused of a capital offense, the state provides a lawyer. For other crimes the state does not provide a lawyer, and defendants without the financial means to hire a lawyer must represent themselves.

Although lengthy delays prior to preliminary inquiries were reported, government authorities and civil society reported compliance with Court of Appeal guidelines that require a preliminary hearing to be held within nine months of detention.

Arbitrary Arrest: Police arrested a woman suspected of having injured Prime Minister Gonsalves during a protest in August in Kingstown. An attorney representing the suspect reported that police intimidated the woman and forced her to confess to the charge; the attorney also noted being unable to contact her client for several hours and complained of not receiving information related to the charge. The accused subsequently pleaded not guilty. In September she was charged with another offense.

Police raided the homes of several opposition supporters and other activists following the injury of Prime Minister Gonsalves during the protest in Kingstown. A week after the incident, two opposition activists were arrested and charged with public order offenses related to the August protest and other demonstrations prompted by the government’s COVID-19 vaccine policy and other national issues. In September one of the political activists was arrested again for alleged breaches of parliamentary privileges. As of October, the individuals were free on bail and awaiting trial.

e. Denial of Fair Public Trial

The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality.

Trial Procedures

The law provides for the right to a fair and public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right.

Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty and are informed promptly and in detail of the charges. Defendants have the right to a fair, timely, and public trial and to be present at the trial. Defendants can select an attorney of their choice. The court appoints attorneys only for indigent defendants charged with a capital offense. Defendants have adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Defendants have access to free assistance of an interpreter as necessary. Defendants could confront and question witnesses and present their own witnesses and evidence. Defendants cannot be compelled to testify or confess guilt. Witnesses and victims sometimes refused to testify because they feared retaliation. Defendants may appeal verdicts and penalties.

Political Prisoners and Detainees

There were no reports of political prisoners and detainees.

Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies

There is an independent, impartial judiciary in civil matters where one may bring lawsuits seeking damages for human rights violations. Individuals may appeal domestic courts’ decisions to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal or the United Kingdom’s Privy Council.

f. Arbitrary or Unlawful Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence

The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties

a. Freedom of Expression, Including for Members of the Press and Other Media

The law provides for freedom of expression, including for members of the press and other media, and the government generally respected this right. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for members of media.

Freedom of Expression for Members of the Press and Other Media, Including Online Media: In June a local newspaper reported that police forced one of its journalists to delete a recording of an interview at a local hospital with a patient who accused police of brutality.

Libel/Slander Laws: Civil society observers reported concerns about criticizing the government, primarily due to fear of facing libel charges, including under the cybercrime act. Civil society representatives indicated these fears resulted in media outlets practicing self-censorship. The act establishes criminal penalties, including imprisonment, for offenses including libel by electronic communication, cyberbullying, and illegal acquisition of data. In August Prime Minister Gonsalves threatened to sue a newspaper columnist, a former speaker of the lower house of parliament, for libel, accusing him of publishing an article that contained defamatory words. The prime minister’s lawyer asked the columnist to pay a substantial sum in damages or be sued. The prime minister agreed not to take legal action against the newspaper outlet that published the story after it subsequently removed the article at his request.

b. Freedoms of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The law provides for the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights. Civil society representatives, however, reported citizens were hesitant to participate in antigovernment protests due to fear of retaliation (see section 1.d., Arbitrary Arrest).

c. Freedom of Religion

See the Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Report at https://www.state.gov/religiousfreedomreport/.

d. Freedom of Movement and the Right to Leave the Country

The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights.

e. Status and Treatment of Internally Displaced Persons

Not applicable.

f. Protection of Refugees

Information on the government’s cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was unavailable.

Access to Asylum: The law does not provide for the granting of asylum or refugee status; the government addresses each case individually. The government has not established a system for protecting refugees.

Section 3. Freedom to Participate in the Political Process

The law provides citizens the ability to choose their government in free and fair periodic elections held by secret ballot and based on universal and equal suffrage.

Elections and Political Participation

Recent Elections: In November 2020 the United Labour Party won nine of the 15 elected seats in the unicameral House of Assemble, which also includes six appointed senators. The New Democratic Party won most of the popular vote but secured only six seats. Regional observers from the Caribbean Community declared the elections generally free and fair.

Participation of Women and Members of Minority Groups: No laws limit participation of women or members of minority groups in the political process, and they did participate. There was one woman, an appointed senator, in the 21-seat legislature.

Section 4. Corruption and Lack of Transparency in Government

The law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the government did not always implement the law effectively.

Corruption: NGO representatives alleged that multiple COVID-19 relief measures, including programs directed at supporting small businesses and food security, were awarded solely to supporters of the government.

Section 5. Governmental Posture Towards International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Abuses of Human Rights

Several domestic human rights organizations, including the domestic Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVGHRA), generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. The government held various meetings with civil society that included the SVGHRA. The SVGHRA’s viewpoints were often dismissed, however, due to the government’s perception that it was aligned with the opposition. Even when government officials shared the group’s concerns, senior officials reportedly intimidated their subordinates into investigating allegations of human rights abuses.

Section 6. Discrimination and Societal Abuses

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal. Sentences for rape begin at 10 years’ imprisonment. Authorities referred allegations of rape or physical or sexual abuse of women to police, who were generally responsive to these complaints.

According to the most recently available data from the Family Court,124 protection orders were issued between January and July. The government occasionally offered sexual abuse awareness training, but civil society representatives argued such efforts were insufficient to address the root problems that perpetuated an environment of insensitivity to sexual abuse victims. Police and human rights groups reported that perpetrators commonly made payoffs to victims of rape or sexual assault in exchange for victims not pressing charges.

Civil society groups continued to report that domestic violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. There were some high-profile prosecutions of perpetrators during the year; moreover, the Division of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of National Mobilization offered programs to assist women and children. In the past the ministry maintained a crisis center for survivors of domestic violence, but the center was closed for renovations throughout the year.

Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically prohibit sexual harassment; authorities could prosecute such behavior under other laws. Sexual harassment was reportedly widespread, particularly in the workplace. Local human rights groups and women’s organizations considered enforcement in the workplace ineffective, citing a lack of sensitivity by government officials, particularly towards economically vulnerable populations.

Reproductive Rights: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.

Contraception was widely available. There were no legal or social barriers to accessing contraception, but some religious beliefs and cultural barriers limited its usage.

The government provided access to sexual and reproductive health services, including emergency contraception, for survivors of sexual violence through the Ministry of National Mobilization, Family, Gender Affairs, Youth, Housing, and Informal Human Settlement. The local NGO Marion House worked with various divisions of the ministry (e.g.., the Gender Affairs Division and the Child Development Division), in addition to the Family Court and Ministry of Health, to assist victims of sexual and gender-based violence.

Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal rights to family, nationality, and inheritance as men. Women receive an equitable share of property following separation or divorce. The law requires equal pay for equal work, and authorities generally enforced it. No specific law prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, and women were restricted from working in some industries.

Systemic Racial or Ethnic Violence and Discrimination

The law prohibits racial discrimination but does not specifically mention ethnicity. The country does not have a racially or ethnically diverse population. Approximately 71 percent of the population is Black, and 23 percent is mixed, primarily of African descent; 3 percent is indigenous.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory or by descent via either parent. Birth registration usually took place within a few days of a child’s birth.

Child Abuse: The law provides a legal framework, including within domestic violence laws, for the protection of children. The Family Services Division of the Ministry of Social Development monitored and protected the welfare of children. The division referred all reports of child abuse to police for action and provided assistance in cases where children applied for protection orders with the Family Court. The police commissioner reported that officers received training in several areas, including child abuse and investigation of sexual offenses.

Child abuse cases were reported. Unlawful sexual intercourse with children younger than age 15 remained a problem, with some cases possibly linked to transactional sex. Government and NGO interlocutors indicated that child abuse remained a significant problem. In July a barber was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2019 rape of a child.

Child, Early, and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18. Parental consent is required for underage marriage.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law does not include provisions that expressly prohibit the use of children for prostitution, pornography, or pornographic performances. The law prohibits girls younger than age 15 and boys younger than 16 from engaging in consensual sexual relations, and the government enforced the law. The law prohibits statutory rape, with special provisions for persons younger than age 13. Observers noted that male and female teenagers engaged in commercial and transactional sex. There continued to be indications adults may have exploited their children in sex trafficking to generate income. Government officials conducted sensitization workshops in the community and schools to address the problem.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Anti-Semitism

There was no organized Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.

Trafficking in Persons

See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report.

Persons with Disabilities

The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, mental, and intellectual disabilities, and the government generally enforced these prohibitions. The law does not mandate access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and access to buildings generally was difficult. Government officials and NGOs reported government funding for organizations supporting persons with disabilities was insufficient to meet needs. No significant reports of violence, harassment, intimidation, or abuses against persons with disabilities by government officials or employees were received during the year. NGOs reported subtle discrimination in hiring practices throughout the economy. The government reported that programs to improve recruitment and hiring of persons with disabilities such as the Youth Employment Scheme and the Secondary Education Training Program were no longer operational.

HIV and AIDS Social Stigma

Anecdotal evidence suggested there was some societal discrimination against persons with HIV or AIDS, especially in employment. The government provided food packages to some persons with HIV or AIDS, but civil society reported that eligible participants had to preregister at health centers, which some individuals were reluctant to do due to fear of public identification and discrimination. NGOs operated a network to assist persons with HIV or AIDS with medical services and psychosocial support.

Acts of Violence, Criminalization, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults is illegal under gross indecency statutes, and sexual conduct between men is illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, although these laws were rarely enforced. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Local civil society organizations continued to note an increase in physical and verbal attacks on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) persons. In sentencing two men who had pleaded guilty to assaulting and robbing an LGBTQI+ person in a 2018 incident, a High Court judge declared in October that the court “could not turn a blind eye to….the underlying theme of these offenses,” calling for all citizens “regardless of their orientation….to be allowed to live their lives in peace.” The offenders faced up to 44 years in prison but were instead given suspended sentences and minimal monetary fines.

Section 7. Worker Rights

a. Freedom of Association and the Right to Collective Bargaining

The law provides for the right of workers to form and join unions of their choice, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The law does not require employers to recognize a particular union as an exclusive bargaining agent. The law prohibits antiunion discrimination and dismissal for engaging in union activities. Although the law does not require reinstatement of workers fired for union activity, a court may order reinstatement.

The government recognizes the right to freedom of association, with restrictions. The International Labor Organization (ILO) noted with concern the discretionary authority of the government over trade union registration and the government’s unfettered authority to investigate the financial accounts of trade unions.

The government generally respected the right to collective bargaining in the private sector. Authorities formed arbitration panels, which included tripartite representation from government, businesses, and unions, on an ad hoc basis when labor disputes occurred.

Workers providing essential services – defined as the provision of electricity, water, hospital, and police services – are prohibited from striking unless they provide at least 14 days’ notice to authorities. Some of these sectors were not covered under the ILO’s description of essential services.

The government generally did not enforce labor laws effectively. Penalties were undefined and thus were not commensurate with penalties for other violations involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination.

b. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The government did not effectively enforce the law. Penalties against forced labor carry punishments commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as kidnapping. The ILO expressed concern that membership in an illegal organization could result in prison labor, in contravention of Convention 105, Abolition of Forced Labor.

While there were no forced labor investigations during the year, civil society representatives reported that a small number of persons, including minors, remained vulnerable to forced labor in underground economic activities in the drug trade and prostitution.

Also see the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.

c. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment

The law bars the worst forms of child labor and sets the minimum working age at 14. Compulsory education ends at age 16. The law prohibits children and youth from working between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Children younger than age 18 may not work for more than 12 hours a day. The laws and regulations do not specify the types of hazardous work prohibited to children.

The government did not effectively enforce child labor laws, and penalties were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes. The Department of Labor did not conduct any inspections specifically related to child labor. Instead, the government relied on general labor inspections to identify any child labor violations, but these inspectors had no specialized training on identifying child labor. The government, however, reported hiring an additional labor inspector to improve overall labor enforcement. There were no reported complaints related to child labor. Covered under national trafficking-in-persons legislation, penalties for the worst forms of child labor could result in 20 years’ imprisonment and were sufficient to deter violations.

See the Department of Labor’s Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor at www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/findings .

d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation

Laws and regulations related to employment and occupation prohibit discrimination based on sex, age, or disability. While the constitution generally covers discrimination, no laws specifically prohibit discrimination against a person based on race, religion, political opinion, national origin, social origin, or language. There are legal restrictions against employing women in certain occupations, including mining, construction, factory work, energy, and water.

The law does not prohibit sexual harassment in employment or protect workers impacted by it. Whether the law covers discrimination due to sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV-positive status was untested in court. The government did not effectively enforce laws prohibiting employment discrimination. Penalties were not commensurate with laws related to civil rights, such as election interference.

e. Acceptable Conditions of Work

Wage and Hour Laws: Minimum wages varied by sector and type of work and were below the poverty line. The law prescribes hours of work for categories, such as industrial employees (40 hours per week), professionals (44 hours per week), and agricultural workers (30 to 40 hours per week). The law provides that workers receive time-and-a-half pay for hours worked above the standard workweek. There was a prohibition against excessive or compulsory overtime, which authorities did not enforce effectively.

Occupational Safety and Health: Workers have the right to remove themselves from unsafe work environments without jeopardizing their employment; however, the government did not effectively enforce occupational safety and health laws. Penalties for violations were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as negligence. The law also appeared to exempt public-sector employees as well as those working on public-sector projects from these laws.

Major occupational safety and health issues included industrial safety, specifically exposure to harmful substances and compliance with safety protocols. Inspectors conducted unannounced inspections but were not authorized to levy sanctions. The largest difficulty was government capacity. The ILO reported no training had been provided to labor inspectors since 2011 and that most officers who had been trained were no longer employed by the Department of Labor. The frequency of inspections decreased at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and reportedly had not changed since then. The Department of Labor does not have the legal authority to impose fines for violations, but it conducted follow-up inspections to assess if the shortfalls had been addressed; no employers were fined or cited for workplace violations. Judicial officials have the authority to prosecute violations of workplace law and impose fines. Workers who receive less than the minimum wage may file a claim with labor inspectors, who investigate and, if warranted, refer the matter to arbitration. The Labor Department received complaints from workers concerning violations of working conditions but did not provide further details regarding the frequency or severity of these violations.

Informal Sector: The government does not collect data on the informal sector. Workers apparently are not covered by wage, hour, or occupational safety and health laws or inspections.

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