Freedom in the World

St. Lucia

St. Lucia

Freedom in the World 2014

2014 Scores

Status

Free

Freedom Rating
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

1.0

Civil Liberties
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

1

Political Rights
(1 = best, 7 = worst)

1
Overview: 


Saint Lucia continued to suffer from slow economic growth (1.5 percent), a public debt at 78 percent of GDP, and an unemployment rate of 23.3 percent. The budget presented to Parliament in May reflected efforts to cut expenditures, but the opposition UWP protested the construction of a new government office in November during a time of economic hardship. Saint Lucia became a full member of the international cooperation organization Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) on July 30, which allows it to purchase Venezuelan petroleum products on concessionary terms. The leader of the United Workers Party (UWP) accused the prime minister of failing to consult the public or parliament about his intention to join ALBA. Criticism also mounted over an unlawful contract signed in 2000 between the prime minister and Jack Grynberg, the president of Texas-based RSM Production Company, that resulted in Grynberg filing an arbitration claim against the Saint Lucian government in November.

Members of the government employed threats and lawsuits to intimidate the media and restrict press freedom. Meanwhile, the United States responded to serious human rights violations by the Saint Lucia police by suspending all training and material assistance in August.

Political Rights and Civil Liberties: 

 

Political Rights: 39 / 40 [Key]

A. Electoral Process: 12 / 12

Under the 1979 constitution, the bicameral Parliament consists of the 17-member House of Assembly, elected for five years, and an appointed 11-member Senate. The prime minister is chosen by the majority party in the House of Assembly. The prime minister chooses 6 members of the Senate, the opposition leader selects 3, and 2 are chosen in consultation with civic and religious organizations. A governor general represents the British monarch as head of state. The island is divided into 11 quarters (districts), each with its own elected council and administrative services.

The Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) unseated the UWP in 2011 general elections with an 11-to-6 seat majority in the House of Assembly. Kenny Anthony, who served as SLP prime minister from 1997 to 2006, was sworn in for a third term.

In April 2013, the Constitutional Reform Commission presented a final report to Parliament, which will consider the recommendations in 2014. The governor-general also announced in April that legislative priorities for 2013–2014 would include proposed changes to the Elections Act in line with recommendations by the Electoral Commission.

 

B. Political Pluralism and Participation: 16 / 16

Political parties are free to organize, but the conservative UWP and the social-democratic SLP dominate politics. Five parties competed in the last general election, but no others gained representation. The Lucian People’s Movement (LPM), launched before the 2011 elections, is especially active on the political scene. 

 

C. Functioning of Government: 11 / 12

Saint Lucia has low levels of corruption and was ranked 22 out of 177 countries surveyed in Transparency International’s 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index. Access to information is legally guaranteed, and government officials are required by law to present their financial assets annually to the Integrity Commission. However, there are cases of government corruption. An on-going legal battle continued in 2013 between Prime Minister Anthony and Jack Grynberg, the president of Texas-based RSM Production Company. Anthony signed a contract in 2000 granting RSM oil exploration rights to millions of acres of Saint Lucia’s maritime territory, when legally only the governor general has authority to do so. In November 2013, Grynberg filed a corruption complaint against Saint Lucia with the U.S. Department of Justice under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; the case was ongoing at year’s end.

 

Civil Liberties: 53 / 60 (-1)

D. Freedom of Expression and Belief: 15 / 16 (-1)

The constitution guarantees freedom of speech, which is respected in practice. The media carry a wide spectrum of views and are largely independent. While there are no daily newspapers, numerous privately owned newspapers publish three issues per week. In 2013, the government took steps to merge the National Television Network (NTN) with the state-owned Radio St. Lucia to form the new National Broadcasting Network. Internet access is not restricted.

Libel offenses were removed from the criminal code in 2006. However, National Security Minister Philip Victor La Corbiniere initiated a wave of media intimidation in late September by announcing intended legal action against broadcast journalist Timothy Poleon and Radio Caribbean International (RCI) for criticizing his ministry. Two additional government officials announced in October that they would also sue Poleon for reading an article on his radio show from U.S.-based Caribbean News Now that allegedly contained defamatory words against them, although no names appeared in the article. On November 25, Poleon read an apology on air admitting his guilt. Leaders of both the UWP and LPM voiced solidarity with Poleon in what they labeled an attack on the media by the SLP administration.

The constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and that right is respected in practice. Academic freedom is generally honored as well.

 

E. Associational and Organizational Rights: 12 / 12

Constitutional guarantees regarding freedoms of assembly and association are largely upheld. Civic groups are well organized and politically active, as are labor unions, which represent the majority of wage earners. However, the Trade Union Federation faced lengthy governmental delays for a salary increase for public sector workers for the 2010–2013 period; negotiations only concluded in May 2013.

 

F. Rule of Law: 12 / 16

The judicial system is independent and includes a high court under the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC). A May 2013 ECSC ruling paves the way for Saint Lucia to adopt the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as its final court of appeal, replacing the Privy Council in London. In recent years, the record of Saint Lucia’s police and judicial system has been blemished by incidents including the severe beatings of inmates by police and impunity in cases of police assault and unlawful killings. In August 2013, the U.S. government announced that it would no longer provide support to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) due to credible allegations of gross human rights violations related to 12 extrajudicial killings that took place in 2010 and 2011. The government responded by inviting CARICOM to investigate the killings and enlisting the Jamaican police to investigate the RSLPF. The government also passed legislation in November to create a new unit to address complaints against the police and to require search warrants before police may enter a property. Prison overcrowding remains a problem, with major backlogs in the judicial system leading to prolonged pretrial detentions.

Same-sex sexual relations are criminalized for both men and women, with punishments of up to 10 years in prison.

 

G. Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights: 14 / 16

Women are underrepresented in politics and other professions; there are currently five women serving in Parliament. Domestic violence is a serious concern and often goes unreported. Saint Lucia is considered a destination country for human trafficking for forced labor and prostitution; the government began prosecuting under the 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act in 2012.

 

 

Scoring Key: X / Y (Z)

X = Score Received

Y = Best Possible Score

Z = Change from Previous Year

Full Methodology