- In November, Al Jazeera reported that politicians in Grenada had allegedly accepted campaign contributions or promises of future remuneration from wealthy foreign businesspeople in exchange for diplomatic passports. Although the prime minister and the governing New National Party (NNP) denied the report, the story raised further concerns over the Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program’s susceptibility to corruption.
- In July, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party accused the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN) of deliberately sabotaging coverage of the party’s news conference by introducing technical problems during the broadcast. An executive member of the NDC held a silent protest for 30 minutes at the network’s headquarters to demonstrate that GBN was not covering the party adequately.
|Was the current head of government or other chief national authority elected through free and fair elections?||4.004 4.004|
The prime minister, usually the leader of the largest party in Parliament, is head of government. The prime minister is appointed by the governor general, who represents the British monarch as head of state.
Following the March 2018 elections, New National Party (NNP) leader Keith Mitchell was sworn in for a second consecutive term as prime minister. Cécile La Grenade was sworn in as Grenada’s first woman to be governor general in 2013.
|Were the current national legislative representatives elected through free and fair elections?||4.004 4.004|
The bicameral parliament consists of the directly elected, 15-seat House of Representatives, whose members serve five-year terms, and the 13-seat Senate, which is appointed by the governor general. Ten Senate seats are appointed on the advice of the prime minister, and the remaining three on the advice of the opposition leader; senators also serve five-year terms.
The NNP won the elections held in March 2018 and captured all 15 seats in the House of Representatives with 59 percent of the vote. NDC received 41 percent of the vote. The electoral observation mission of the Organization of American States (OAS) expressed concern over a lack of campaign finance regulations and other issues but deemed the polls credible.
|Are the electoral laws and framework fair, and are they implemented impartially by the relevant election management bodies?||3.003 4.004|
Electoral laws are generally fair, and they are usually implemented impartially by the supervisor of elections, who heads the Parliamentary Elections Office.
In Grenada’s 2016 constitutional referendum, all proposals failed to pass—including setting a three-term limit for the prime minister, establishing fixed dates for elections, and reforming the electoral authority and the body that sets constituency boundaries. Voter turnout was low, at just 32 percent.
The unbalanced size of constituencies has resulted in unequal voting power among citizens. For example, in a country of 100,000 people, the largest of Grenada’s 15 constituencies has around 6,000 more registered voters than the smallest. This long-standing discrepancy has not been addressed.
|Do the people have the right to organize in different political parties or other competitive political groupings of their choice, and is the system free of undue obstacles to the rise and fall of these competing parties or groupings?||4.004 4.004|
Political parties can organize freely. While a number of small political parties have competed in elections, the first-past-the-post system encourages two-party politics, and since 1999 only the NNP and NDC have won seats in Parliament. Additionally, weak campaign finance laws potentially create an unfair advantage for certain parties.
|Is there a realistic opportunity for the opposition to increase its support or gain power through elections?||4.004 4.004|
There are realistic opportunities for opposition parties to increase their support or gain power through elections, and power has rotated on several occasions since the first election in 1984, after democracy was restored to Grenada. However, the NNP has won a majority of the elections since then, and some analysts have raised concerns about the NDC’s failure to win any seats in the House of Representatives in both the 2013 and 2018 elections.
|Are the people’s political choices free from domination by forces that are external to the political sphere, or by political forces that employ extrapolitical means?||4.004 4.004|
People are generally able to express their political choices without encountering pressure from outside actors. However, the OAS has expressed concern about a lack of transparency and general regulation of campaign finance procedures, which could create avenues for undue influence over candidates and voters by business or other special interest groups.
|Do various segments of the population (including ethnic, religious, gender, LGBT, and other relevant groups) have full political rights and electoral opportunities?||4.004 4.004|
Grenada’s constitution guarantees universal suffrage for adult citizens. Women remain underrepresented in politics, though 7 out of 15 seats in the House of Representatives were won by women in 2018. Women’s advocacy groups have influence in the general political sphere. The marginalization of the LGBT+ people impacts their ability to engage fully in political and electoral processes.
|Do the freely elected head of government and national legislative representatives determine the policies of the government?||4.004 4.004|
The appointed prime minister and cabinet and freely elected representatives are able to determine the policies of the government. However, because of concerns over the lack of an opposition in the House of Representatives, three NDC members were appointed to the Senate after the 2013 and 2018 elections.
|Are safeguards against official corruption strong and effective?||3.003 4.004|
Corruption remains a prominent issue in Grenada, despite safeguards enshrined in the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Integrity in Public Life Act. In August 2018, the Integrity Commission began an investigation into allegations that the Marketing and National Importing Board (MNIB) had misappropriated public funds over a five-year period. The MNIB’s former head, Ruel Edwards, in court questioned the right of the Commission to conduct its investigation. In June 2019, a judge on the High Court ruled that the Integrity Commission had acted in accordance with the law. Edwards filed an appeal in August. The Integrity Commission entered its inquiry stage in October, but a month later, a judge halted its work, and the case was sent to the Court of Appeal for consideration. No date had been set for the appeal by year’s end.
A number of suggested amendments in the 2016 constitutional reform package would have strengthened anticorruption safeguards, but all were voted down by significant margins.
Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program, which allows foreigners to gain citizenship through an economic investment in the country, continued to trouble some analysts due to the potential for fraud and abuse, despite the tightening of rules governing it in 2017. In April 2019, the government passed reforms to ensure the completion of projects and protect investors. However, in November, Al Jazeera reported that politicians in Grenada had allegedly accepted campaign contributions or future kickbacks off of government contracts from wealthy foreign businesspeople in exchange for diplomatic passports or ambassadorships, all connected to the CBI program. Although the prime minister and the NNP denied the report, the story raised further concern over the CBI program’s susceptibility to corruption. In December, the NDC stated that the program had too many loopholes and called on the government to amend it.
|Does the government operate with openness and transparency?||3.003 4.004|
The government of Grenada generally operates with transparency. A decree passed in 2013 under the authority of the Integrity in Public Life Act requires all public officials to declare their personal assets. An appointed commission monitors and verifies declarations but does not disclose them publicly except in court. In 2017, Parliament passed an amendment to the Mutual Exchange of Information on Tax Matters Bill, which allows Grenadian authorities to request financial information about its citizens residing abroad in an effort to prevent tax avoidance.
There is no law to ensure public access to information, even though the government pledged to introduce such an act in 2008.
|Are there free and independent media?||3.003 4.004|
In 2012, Grenada became the first Caribbean country to decriminalize defamation, but seditious libel remains a criminal offense. Politicians have initiated defamation lawsuits against the media, contributing to self-censorship among journalists who may not be able to afford legal costs or resulting fines. Press freedom advocates criticized censorship at the country’s largest broadcaster, the Grenada Broadcasting Network (GBN), which is partly owned by the government; GBN reportedly prohibited the network’s reporters from covering a protest held by GBN staff members against their general manager in September 2018.
In July 2019 the GBN was accused by the NDC of deliberately sabotaging coverage of the party by introducing technical problems during its reporting. After beginning the broadcast of an NDC news conference, the screen went blank, and coverage resumed at the conclusion of the party’s remarks. GBN denied the accusations of sabotage, and stated that the disruption was due a to an electrical outage, one of a series of outages that they had been having at the time.
|Are individuals free to practice and express their religious faith or nonbelief in public and private?||4.004 4.004|
Freedom of religion is protected under the constitution and this right is generally respected in practice.
|Is there academic freedom, and is the educational system free from extensive political indoctrination?||4.004 4.004|
The government generally respects academic freedom.
|Are individuals free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics without fear of surveillance or retribution?||4.004 4.004|
Individuals are free to express their personal views on political or other sensitive topics.
|Is there freedom of assembly?||4.004 4.004|
Freedom of assembly is constitutionally guaranteed, and that right is generally respected in practice.
|Is there freedom for nongovernmental organizations, particularly those that are engaged in human rights– and governance-related work?||4.004 4.004|
Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are generally free to operate.
|Is there freedom for trade unions and similar professional or labor organizations?||3.003 4.004|
The right of workers to form and join labor unions is constitutionally protected, though unions and labor activists face some obstacles. Workers have the right to strike, organize, and bargain collectively, though employers are not legally bound to recognize a union if a majority of workers do not join. Essential services workers may strike, but compulsory arbitration can be used to resolve disputes. The list of essential services is extensive and includes services that should not be considered as such according to International Labour Organization (ILO) standards.
|Is there an independent judiciary?||4.004 4.004|
An independent judiciary is constitutionally guaranteed. Courts have demonstrated independence in recent years, as evidenced by a 2017 Supreme Court decision that prevented the government from expropriating property owned by the company Rex Resorts. There has not been tangible evidence of political interference in the judiciary in the last several years.
Grenada is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States court system. and is a charter member of the Caribbean Court of Justice. But the judiciary relies on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London as its final court of appeal. In 2016, Parliament approved legislation to eliminate the Privy Council as the final court, but the measure was defeated in the year’s constitutional referendum. A second referendum on the matter failed again in November 2018.
|Does due process prevail in civil and criminal matters?||3.003 4.004|
Detainees and defendants are guaranteed a range of legal rights, including the presumption of innocence and the right to trial without delay, which are mostly respected in practice. However, case backlogs have rendered trial delays common in practice. Additionally, staffing shortages prevent the state from providing legal counsel to some indigent defendants.
|Is there protection from the illegitimate use of physical force and freedom from war and insurgencies?||3.003 4.004|
Grenada is free from war and insurgencies. Flogging remains a punishment for petty crimes, and the prison system is overcrowded. The 2018 occupancy rate was more than 230 percent. Although considered one of the safer Caribbean islands, there has been a rise in reports of sexual assault in recent years.
|Do laws, policies, and practices guarantee equal treatment of various segments of the population?||3.003 4.004|
Same-sex sexual activity is a criminal offense in Grenada, and LGBT+ people face significant societal discrimination. The 2016 constitutional referendum included an amendment to protect the equal treatment of people in Grenada, but that amendment was overwhelmingly rejected due to concerns that language in the amendment might lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage.
The law does not forbid discrimination in employment or occupation regarding HIV-positive status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Children are not explicitly prohibited from doing hazardous work.
|Do individuals enjoy freedom of movement, including the ability to change their place of residence, employment, or education?||4.004 4.004|
Freedom of movement is constitutionally guaranteed, and this right is generally respected in practice.
|Are individuals able to exercise the right to own property and establish private businesses without undue interference from state or nonstate actors?||3.003 4.004|
The government of Grenada has actively encouraged both national and foreign investors to operate businesses in the country, but procedures involved in establishing a new business can be onerous. Following court rulings in 2017 that prevented the government from expropriating the Grenadian hotel from its owners, Rex Resorts, the government continued its attempts to acquire the property through the courts in 2018. The government then ended its claim late in 2018, but only after the hotel had been purchased by another company.
|Do individuals enjoy personal social freedoms, including choice of marriage partner and size of family, protection from domestic violence, and control over appearance?||3.003 4.004|
Violence against women and children is a widespread issue in Grenada. Domestic violence legislation came into effect in 2011, but enforcement has been limited. In 2017, the cabinet appointed a committee to address child sexual abuse. In September 2018, the Royal Grenada Police Force launched the Special Victims Unit to handle cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse, as well as a new hotline for reporting sexual abuse.
|Do individuals enjoy equality of opportunity and freedom from economic exploitation?||3.003 4.004|
Poverty and unemployment are pervasive and hamper the social mobility of many Grenadians. In November 2018, Grenada ratified the ILO’s Domestic Workers Convention, to improve work conditions of domestic workers, who are mainly women. It came into effect in November 2019.
A 2015 law punishes human trafficking with up to 25 years in jail and large fines. However, reports of human trafficking are rare.
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