Freedom in the World
Political Rights: 38 / 40 [Key]
Civil Liberties: 57 / 60
Dominica faced its worst natural disaster in decades when a tropical storm passed close to its coastline in August, causing devastating damage and leading to an estimated 30 deaths and displacing more than 500 people from their homes. The World Bank assessed the damage at nearly $500 million, and the International Monetary Fund provided $8.7 million in immediate recovery assistance.
In May and June, residents of Salisbury organized demonstrations to protest poor agricultural conditions, and constructed road blocks in some parts of the town. The government deemed the demonstrations illegal, and the police response led to clashes; no serious injuries were reported. Some journalists covering the protests reported intimidation by security forces.
The country lacks legislation on access to information, and defamation remains a criminal offense. Government officials have used defamation lawsuits—or threats thereof—against members of the media, encouraging an environment of self-censorship. In 2014, after opposition leader and journalist Lennox Linton accused the government of harboring criminals, eight ministers filed a defamation suit against him, seeking $1 million in damages. In November 2015, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit launched a defamation case against Linton after the journalist published a letter connecting Skerrit to a corruption case involving a former UN president.
The Dominica police force, which assumed responsibility for security after the military was disbanded in 1981, operates professionally, and there have been few complaints of violations of human rights in recent years. In 2014, five police officers were arrested in connection with the death of a detainee. In March 2015, the officers were formally charged with murder; the case was ongoing at year’s end.
This country report has been abridged for Freedom in the World 2016. For background information on political rights and civil liberties in Dominica, see Freedom in the World 2015.
X = Score Received
Y = Best Possible Score
Z = Change from Previous Year