Freedom in the World
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Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
In 2009, the new Barbadian government led by Prime Minister David Thompson of the Democratic Labour Party grappled with the impact of the economic recession.
Barbados has been more successful than other Caribbean countries in combating violent crime, which remained at low levels. The country experienced only 19 murders in 2009, the lowest recorded number in a decade. Joint patrols of the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Barbados Defence Force have managed to contain the problem, which was often linked to narcotics trafficking. The attorney general called for focusing more attention on curtailing the drug trade, which remained a significant problem in 2009.
Barbados is an electoral democracy. Members of the 30-member House of Assembly, the lower house of the bicameral Parliament, are directly elected for five-year terms. The governor-general, who represents the British monarch as head of state, appoints the 21 members of the Senate: 12 on the advice of the prime minister, 2 on the advice of the leader of the opposition, and the remaining 7 at his own discretion. The prime minister is the leader of the political party with a majority in the House.
Women comprise roughly half of the country’s workforce, however, violence against women and children continue to be serious social concerns.