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TITLE:  ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE


                      ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA


Antigua and Barbuda, a small two-island state, is a 
parliamentary democracy and a member of the Commonwealth of 
Nations.  It is governed by a Prime Minister, a Cabinet, and a 
bicameral Legislative Assembly.  The Governor General, with 
largely ceremonial duties, is the titular Head of State and 
serves as the representative of the British monarch.  The 
Constitution requires general elections at least every 
5 years.  Prime Minister V.C. Bird, Sr., and his Antigua Labour 
Party hold 15 of the 17 seats in the House of Representatives.  
The Governor General appoints the 17-member Senate with the 
advice of the Prime Minister and opposition leader.

Security forces consist of a police force and the Antigua and 
Barbuda Defense Force, a 90-person infantry unit.  The police 
are organized, trained, and supervised according to British law 
enforcement practices.  The security forces have a reputation 
for respecting individual rights in the performance of their 
duties.

Antigua and Barbuda has a mixed economy with a strong private 
sector.  A slowdown in the important tourism industry was 
blamed for a decline in economic growth during 1993.  The large 
and growing external debt, combined with the financial 
pressures of meeting payroll demands of an oversized public 
sector work force, also contributed to the economic slowdown.  

The Constitution provides for political and civil rights, which 
are generally respected in practice.  However, despite 
government promises in 1992 that opposition political leaders 
would have access to the government-controlled electronic 
media, news censorship continued.  As a result, opposition 
parties or persons presenting opinions opposed to government 
policies were denied media access.  Scattered incidents of 
violence marred campaign activities for general elections set 
for early 1994.  

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.


     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearance or politically motivated 
abductions.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution prohibits torture and other cruel or inhuman 
treatment of prisoners or detainees, and these prohibitions are 
generally respected in practice.  In 1990 Parliament amended 
the law to permit flogging as a penalty for rape.  While there 
were no reported floggings of convicted rapists, several people 
were flogged for conviction on child molestation charges.  

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, 
which do not occur in practice.  Criminal defendants have the 
right of judicial determination of the legality of their 
detention.  Detainees must be brought before a court within 48 
hours of arrest or detention.  There were no reports of 
involuntary exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judicial system is modeled on that of the United Kingdom 
and is part of the Eastern Caribbean legal system.  Final 
appeal may be made to the Queen's Privy Council in the United 
Kingdom, which is invariably done in the case of death 
sentences.  There are no military or political courts.  
Criminal defendants are assured a fair, open, and public 
trial.  In capital cases only, the Government provides legal 
assistance at public expense to persons without the means to 
retain a private attorney.  

There are no political prisoners in Antigua and Barbuda.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

There were no reports of arbitrary interference with privacy, 
family, home, or correspondence in 1993.  The police must 
obtain a warrant from an officer of the court before searching 
private premises.


Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech, the press, and 
other forms of communication.  These provisions are generally 
respected.  However, the Government dominates the electronic 
media, the only daily source of news, and effectively denies 
access to opposition parties.  The Government owns one of the 
two radio stations and the single television station.  A son of 
the Prime Minister owns the second radio station, while another 
son is the principal owner of the sole cable television 
company.  The government-controlled media reported regularly on 
the Government's activities but rarely on those of the 
opposition political parties.

The political opposition publishes one weekly newspaper.  
Several private sector organizations, such as the Chamber of 
Commerce, publish newsletters with a variety of opinions.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of peaceful assembly.  
Required permits for public meetings are issued by the police 
and are normally granted.  On a few occasions, police permits 
for political rallies and marches have been delayed in an 
effort to defuse confrontational situations.  On these 
occasions, the opposition parties accused the police of 
interference.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is unrestricted exercise of religious freedom.  The 
population is overwhelmingly Protestant, but adherents of other 
religious denominations practice their religion and proselytize 
openly without government interference.  All groups are free to 
maintain links with coreligionists in other countries.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Neither law nor practice restricts the right of citizens to 
move about within the country, to travel abroad, or to emigrate.


Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Antigua and Barbuda has a multiparty political system 
accommodating a wide spectrum of political viewpoints.  All 
citizens 18 years of age and older may register and vote by  
secret ballot.  The Constitution requires general elections at 
least every 5 years.  The Government is obligated by law to 
hold voter registration during a fixed period each year, and 
parties conduct their own registration drives free of 
government interference.  The last general elections were held 
in March 1989 and were won by the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).  
With 15 of the 17 seats in the House of Representatives, the 
ALP retains the power that it has held since 1951, except for a 
period of opposition from 1971 to 1976.  One seat is held by 
United Progressive Party (UPP) leader Baldwin Spencer.  The 
remaining seat represents the Barbuda constituency and is held 
by a political independent who leads the Barbuda faction 
advocating secession from Antigua.  

The opposition has charged that the ALP's longstanding monopoly 
on patronage and its influence over access to economic 
opportunities make it extremely difficult for opposition 
parties to attract membership and financial support.  In 1992, 
however, public concern over corruption in government spawned 
the merger of three political opposition parties into the UPP.  
This led to massive new UPP voter registrants in 1993, but 
opposition leaders complained that the electoral rolls were 
inaccurate.

The ALP responded by electing the Prime Minister's son, Lester 
B. Bird, as its new political leader to run as the ALP 
standard-bearer in the general elections scheduled for early 
1994.  Scattered incidents of violence marred the campaign by 
year's end.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

While there are no governmental restrictions, no local human 
rights groups have formed to date.  There were no requests for 
human rights investigations or inquiries during 1993. 


Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The law prohibits discrimination based on race, sex, creed, 
language, or social status, and it is generally observed.

     Women

While the role of women in society is not legally restricted, 
tradition tends to limit women to home and family, particularly 
in rural areas, and to restrict their career options.  To 
change these traditional roles, the Government began programs 
to provide enhanced educational opportunities for both sexes, 
as well as family planning services.  The Directorate of 
Women's Affairs (previously the Women's Desk) worked 
energetically, with some success, to help women advance in 
government and the professions, but progress was slower in the 
private sector.  In 1993 the Directorate continued educational 
programs for women in such areas as health, crafts, and 
improving business skills.

Most violence against women probably goes unreported; however, 
knowledgeable sources believe that over 1,600 cases of physical 
and mental violence occur each year.  Gauging the extent of the 
problem is difficult due to the reluctance of women in many 
cases to testify against their abusers.  Police may be 
reluctant to interfere in cases of domestic violence, and some 
women have credibly charged that the courts are lenient in such 
cases.

     Children

The Government is a signatory of the U.N. Convention on the 
Rights of the Child and adheres to its principles.  
Approximately 17 percent of the national budget is allotted to 
children's human rights and welfare, including education.

     People with Disabilities

There are no specific laws mandating accessibility for the 
disabled, but there are constitutional provisions that prohibit 
discrimination against the physically disabled in employment 
and education.  There is no evidence of widespread 
discrimination against physically disabled individuals.


Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers have the right to associate freely and to form labor 
unions, and those rights are respected in practice.  Although 
fewer than 50 percent of workers belong to unions, the 
important hotel industry is heavily unionized.  Unions are free 
to affiliate with international labor organizations and do so 
in practice.

Antigua and Barbuda has two major trade unions:  the Antigua 
Trades and Labour Union (ATLU) and the Antigua Workers' Union 
(AWU).  The ATLU is associated with the ruling ALP, while the 
larger and more active AWU is rather loosely allied with the 
opposition.

The right to strike is recognized by the Labour Code.  This 
right may be limited in a given dispute by the Court of 
Industrial Relations.  Once either party to the dispute 
requests the court to mediate, there can be no strike.  Because 
of the delays associated with this process, in practice labor 
disputes are often resolved before a strike is called.  There 
were no strikes in 1993.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Labor organizations are free to organize and bargain 
collectively.  Antiunion discrimination is prohibited by law, 
and there have been no reports of its practice.  Employers 
found guilty of antiunion discrimination are not required to 
rehire employees fired for union activities but must pay full 
severance pay and full wages lost by the employee from the time 
of firing until the determination of employer fault.  There are 
no areas of the country where union organization or collective 
bargaining is discouraged or impeded.  There are no export 
processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution forbids slavery or forced labor, and they do 
not exist in practice.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The law provides a minimum working age of 13, which is 
respected in practice.  Responsibility for enforcement rests 
with the Ministry of Labour, which is required by law to 
conduct periodic inspections of workplaces.  While there have 
been no reports of minimum age employment violations, the 
political strength of the two major unions and the powerful 
influence that the Government has on the private sector, 
combine to make the Ministry of Labour very effective in 
enforcement in this area.  

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law permits a maximum 48-hour, 6-day workweek, but in 
practice the standard workweek is 40 hours in 5 days.  Workers 
are guaranteed a minimum of 3 weeks of annual leave and up to 
13 weeks of maternity leave.  Different minimum wages for 
different work categories were established by law in 1981.  The 
lowest minimum wage category, domestic workers, is $0.46 
(EC$1.25) per hour; the highest minimum wage category, for 
skilled labor, is $1.30 (EC$3.50) per hour.  Most minimum wages 
would not provide a decent standard of living for workers and 
their families, but in practice the great majority of workers 
earn substantially more than the minimum wage.  Increases in 
the minimum wage were recommended in 1989, but there was no 
action to implement the recommendation in 1993.

There are no occupational health and safety laws or 
regulations.  The Labour Code provides for inspection and 
safety standards approval by the Labour Commissioner. (###)



[end of document]

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