Freedom in the World

Grenada

Grenada

Freedom in the World 2014

2014 Scores

Status

Free

Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

1.5

Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

2

Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

1
Overview: 


In January, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas requested the governor-general to dissolve Parliament to prepare for early elections. The country’s struggling economy and a 30 percent unemployment rate were the main issues in the ensuing election campaign. Grenada faces unsustainable debt levels and has yet to fully rebuild after devastation by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, which damaged 90 percent of the island’s buildings and destroyed the country’s main export crop, nutmeg.

In elections on February 19, Prime Minister Thomas and his National Democratic Congress (NDC) lost their 11 seats in the House of Representatives; the New National Party (NNP) captured all 15 seats. Organization of American States (OAS) electoral monitors deemed the elections fair, but recommended that the government review its electoral law and introduce campaign finance regulations.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 

 

Political Rights: 38 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 12 / 12

Grenada is governed under a parliamentary system. The bicameral Parliament consists of the directly elected, 15-seat House of Representatives, whose members serve five-year terms, and the 13-seat Senate, to which the prime minister appoints 10 members and typically the opposition leader appoints 3. The prime minister is generally the leader of the majority party in the House of Representatives and is appointed by the governor-general, who represents the British monarch as head of state.

Prime Minister Thomas’s government and his NDC party were plagued by infighting and dissent. While elections were not constitutionally due until October, in January Thomas requested the governor-general to dissolve Parliament. The election took place February 19, a little over a month later. In addition to the NDC and the NNP, the newly formed National United Front (NUF), representing a breakaway faction of the NDC, competed in the elections. Voter turnout was 87 percent. The elections gave a landslide victory to the NNP, which captured all 15 seats in the House of Representatives with 59 percent of the vote; the NDC received 41 percent of the vote and the NUF received less than 1 percent. Keith Mitchell, who had served as prime minister from 1995 to 2008, was sworn in as prime minister the following day.

The OAS Electoral Observer Team commended the government on implementation of a new voter registration system. However, it expressed concerns over the lack of campaign financing regulations, and recommended a comprehensive review of the Representation of the Peoples Act, which governs the conduct of elections.

Due to the lack of parliamentary opposition after the elections, the governor-general appointed three former NDC ministers to the Senate. In April, Prime Minister Mitchell announced the appointment of Grenada’s first female governor-general, Dr. Cécile La Grenade. In September, La Grenade acted in her role as head of state to dismiss the supervisor of elections, Judy Benoit. Benoit had failed to comply with a cabinet-mandated decision to integrate the Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project (EGRIP) into the electoral computer system, which Benoit claimed would infringe on the independent mandate of the Office of the Supervisor of Elections and violate the Office’s integrity. Benoit requested a judicial review of her dismissal; however, a date had yet to be set by year’s end for the hearing.

 

B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 16 / 16

Grenada’s main political parties are the center-left NDC and the conservative NNP, which regularly rotate in power. A number of smaller parties exist and competed in the last elections, including Grenada United Labour Party, the People’s Labour Movement, and the newly formed NUF. Parties are free to form and operate.

 

C. Functioning of Government: 10 / 12

Corruption remains a contentious political issue in Grenada. The Prevention of Corruption Act and the Integrity in Public Life Act were passed in 2007. While the Integrity Commission was operationalized in 2010, it has yet to commence its work. However, the new NNP government announced its intention to implement the Integrity in Public Life Act, and allocated funds for the Integrity Commission in its 2013 budget statement.

 

Civil Liberties: 51 / 60

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 15 / 16

The right to free expression is guaranteed in the constitution and is generally respected in practice. In July 2012, Grenada became the first Caribbean country to decriminalize defamation. However, seditious libel remains a criminal offence with a possible two-year prison sentence. The government also passed the retrogressive Electronic Crimes Act on September 9, which includes sanctions for “offensive” electronic communications, with a prison sentence of up to one year. The government subsequently responded to international pressure, announcing on September 23 that it would make necessary changes so the law does not restrict free speech; however, no changes to the law had been made by year’s end. While Grenada has no daily newspapers, there are several privately owned weeklies. The government owns a minority stake in a private corporation that operates the principal radio and television stations, and there are several independent stations.

Citizens of Grenada generally practice their religious beliefs freely, and there are no official restrictions on academic freedom.

 

E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 11 / 12

Constitutional guarantees regarding freedoms of assembly and association are respected. Independent non-governmental organizations are free to operate. Workers have the right to strike and to organize and bargain collectively, though employers are not legally bound to recognize a union if the majority of the workers do not join.

 

F. Rule of Law: 12 / 16

The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, which is generally respected by the government. Grenada is a member of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States court system and is a charter member of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), but still relies on the Privy Council in London as its final court of appeal. Detainees and defendants are guaranteed a range of legal rights, which are mostly respected in practice. However, Grenada’s prisons are significantly overcrowded. In December 2011, five police officers allegedly beat to death Oscar Bartholomew, a Grenadian-Canadian man on holiday. In March 2013 manslaughter charges were dropped and the officers returned to work pending a coroner’s inquest into the death, which was delayed again in September and had yet to take place at year’s end.

 

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 13 / 16

The constitution prohibits gender discrimination, and Grenada’s Employment Act (1999) and Education Act (2002) prohibit discrimination based on sex. However, in practice cultural norms and traditional practices perpetuate discrimination. New domestic violence legislation came into effect in 2011, but enforcement has been limited. While women’s political representation increased to a record one-third of the lower house following the 2013 elections, women were appointed to just 2 of the 13 Senate seats. Grenada’s Criminal Code criminalizes same-sex sexual conduct with prison sentences of up to 10 years, and gay men and lesbians face significant social discrimination.

 

Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology