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

                            BARBADOS


Barbados, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, is a 
constitutional democracy with a multiparty, parliamentary form 
of government.  The Queen is Head of State; she is represented 
by an appointed Governor General.  The Prime Minister is the 
Head of Government and governs with an appointed Cabinet.  
National elections, which were last held in January 1991, were 
contested by two major political parties, an offshoot of the 
government party, and several independent candidates.  Prime 
Minister Erskine Sandiford, leader of the Democratic Labour 
Party (DLP), was reelected at that time for a maximum 5-year 
term.

The Royal Barbados Police Force is charged with maintaining 
public order.  The small volunteer Barbados Defense Force, 
responsible for national security, can be employed to maintain 
public order in times of crisis, emergency, or other specific 
need.  The Defense Force assisted the police by patrolling 
certain tourist areas in response to a major increase of 
crime.  On the whole, the police respected constitutional and 
legal guarantees of human rights, but there were incidents of 
police use of excessive force.

The country's economy is based on agriculture, tourism, light 
manufacturing, and services, which makes it vulnerable to 
external economic developments.  Per capita gross domestic 
product exceeds $5,000 per year.  An International Monetary 
Fund 18-month stabilization program ended in May.  It included 
layoffs of public sector employees, an 8-percent public sector 
wage cut, divestment of various state-owned enterprises, tax 
increases, and other means of increasing revenue and easing 
serious balance of payments difficulties.  The reductions in 
government social spending affected thousands of Barbadians, 
but political tension and social unrest decreased in 1993 from 
the levels witnessed in 1992.

Barbados has a long record of generally respecting human 
rights, and there was no significant change in that record 
during 1993.  Nonetheless, reports of human rights abuse 
included excessive use of force by police and a significant 
level of societal violence against women and children.


RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political killings are nonexistent in Barbados.

The only allegations of extrajudicial killings involved the 
case of three young men--Ezra White, Ronald Codrington, and 
Devere Headley--who died as a a result of a June shootout with 
police.  An official police investigation was conducted, and 
initial reports suggested that the police responded 
appropriately.  The men were reported to be well-known criminals
involved in a number of assaults with guns and they apparently 
initiated the exchange of fire which led to their deaths.

In the case of Ryan Jordan, a 17-year-old who died in police 
custody in April 1992, Amnesty International called on 
Barbadian officials to initiate an impartial investigation and 
prosecute those responsible.  The coroner's inquest in the case 
has not been completed.  Local human rights monitors believe 
that, although Jordan may have suffered injuries not caused by 
the police, the police may have beat him as well, contributing 
to his death.  

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearance.

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

The Constitution specifically prohibits torture and cruel, 
inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.  However, the 
local press reported that a very high percentage of convictions 
are based on confessions in Barbados.  There continued to be 
credible reports that brutality by law enforcement officials 
during detention is sometimes used to extract confessions.

After several publicized reports of police extracting forced 
confessions and beating suspects in 1992, the Commissioner of 
Police condemned "the use of unauthorized force" by police 
officers.  He initiated new procedures which provide that 
suspects and other persons held by the police can be questioned 
only at a police station, except when expressly permitted 
by a senior divisional officer.  An officer must visit a 
detainee at least once every 3 hours to inquire about the 
detainee's condition.  After 24 hours, a written report must be 
submitted to the Deputy Commissioner.  All movements of the 
detainee between stations must be approved and recorded.

Barbados is in the forefront of an initiative to standardize 
police procedures throughout the English-speaking Caribbean 
region.  However, contrary to the unarmed tradition of the 
police force--in response to the shooting death of a policeman 
and the rise in gun- and drug-related crime--special units and 
some foot patrols were issued firearms in 1993.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and imprisonment 
and requires detainees to be brought before a court of law 
within 72 hours of arrest.  These provisions are generally 
respected in practice.  New rules of guidance set out in 
mid-1992 by the Police Commissioner specify methods of 
detention, means of reporting such, and disclosure of the 
condition of the detainee to senior police officers.  Criminal 
defendants have the right to counsel, and attorneys have ready 
access to their clients.

Exile is not used as a punishment or means of political control.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides that persons charged with criminal 
offenses be given a fair, public hearing within a reasonable 
time by an independent and impartial court.  The judicial 
system provides for rights of due process at each level.  
Defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.  The 
Government provides free legal aid to the indigent.  The 
judiciary acts independently and is free of intervention from 
other branches of government.  Criticizing the Government is 
not a political offense, and there are no political prisoners.

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

The Government does not routinely interfere in the private 
lives of its citizens.  The Constitution prohibits arbitrary 
entry, search, or seizure, and the law requires warrants to be 
issued before privately owned property may be entered and 
searched.  Nonetheless, there continued to be credible reports 
that, in response to increased drug-related crime, the police 
resorted to searches of homes in certain neighborhoods in 
Barbados, sometimes without a warrant.  The Government neither 
censors mail nor restricts the receipt of foreign 
correspondence or publications.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
these rights are respected in practice.  There are five radio 
stations, two of which are owned by the Government.  Caribbean 
Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television service (the only 
television source, excluding direct satellite reception) is 
government-owned.  Though CBC is a state enterprise, views 
opposing government policies are regularly reported.  Opposition
political figures occasionally claim their positions are given 
little attention.  This allegation has been made over the years 
regardless of which party controls the Government.  There are 
two independent daily newspapers, both of which present 
opposition political views.  The Government regularly comes 
under attack in the newspapers and on daily call-in radio 
programs.  Although critics allege that the Government sometimes
uses its influence to discourage media from reporting on 
sensitive issues, the press remained vigorously critical of 
Government on a broad span of issues.

Barbados is the site of the Cave Hill campus of the University 
of the West Indies; academicians across the political spectrum 
express their views freely.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government observes the constitutional guarantees of 
peaceful assembly and private association.  Permits required 
for public demonstrations continue to be routinely granted.  
Political parties, trade unions, and private organizations 
function and hold meetings and rallies without hindrance.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

There is full freedom of religion.  While the Anglican and 
Methodist faiths have traditionally predominated, there are 
numerous other active religious denominations and organizations 
throughout the country, including Muslims and Rastafarians.  
Foreign missionaries of various faiths proselytize freely.


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

Citizens and legal residents move freely within Barbados and 
leave and enter the country without restriction.

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

Citizens have this right in law and exercise it in practice.  
Political parties freely compete in fair elections by secret 
ballot at least every 5 years.  There are no impediments to 
participation in the political process, and all Barbadians over 
age 18 may vote.  The present Democratic Labour Party (DLP) 
Government, in power since 1986, won the January 1991 
parliamentary elections with a majority of 18 out of the 28 
seats.  (One DLP member resigned from the party in 1993 and 
remained in Parliament as an independent.)  The main opposition 
party, the Barbados Labour Party (BLP), won 10 seats.  A 
Cabinet of ministers appointed by the Prime Minister exercises 
executive power, balanced by a bicameral Parliament and the 
judiciary system.  Women are well represented at all but the 
uppermost levels of government and politics.

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

Local groups involved with human rights matters operate freely 
and without government hindrance.  Caribbean Rights, a 
Caribbean-wide human rights organization, has its headquarters 
and a small staff in Barbados, and it investigates and reports 
on allegations of human rights violations throughout the region.

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

The Constitution provides for equal treatment under the law, 
regardless of race, religion, or sex.

     Women

Women actively participate in all aspects of national life and 
are well-represented at all except the uppermost levels of both 
the public and private sectors.  They form a large percentage 
of heads of household in Barbados and are not discriminated 
against in public housing or other social welfare programs.


However, women's rights groups continued to single out violence 
against women and children as a significant social problem in 
Barbados.  They reported that the incidence of sexual assaults, 
domestic violence, incest, and rape among family members 
increased, despite the fact that there is still some reluctance 
on the part of victims to report such incidents.  There are 
public and private counseling services for domestic violence, 
rape, suicide, and child abuse.

The 1992 Domestic Violence Law specifies the appropriate police 
response to domestic violence, intended to protect all members 
of the family, including men and children, and applies to common
law relationships as well as married people.  Criminal penalties
for violent crimes are the same, regardless of the sex of the 
offender or the victim.  In cases of domestic violence, courts 
typically issue restraining orders if requested by the victim, 
the breach of which is punishable by a jail sentence.  The 
courts heard a number of cases of domestic violence against 
women involving assault or wounding.  Human rights monitors 
criticized the inconsistency in sentencing for rape, incest, 
and statutory rape, which is often left to the discretion of 
the judge.  The lack of sentencing guidelines resulted in 
longer sentences being handed down for persons accused of petty 
theft than for incest; and lesser sentences for incest than for 
rape or sexual assault of nonfamily members.

     Children

The Government is committed to children's human rights and 
welfare.  The Child Care Board is the key agency responsible 
for monitoring and responding to the critical welfare needs, 
interests, and rights of children.  Recent incidents of 
statutory rape and child abuse have received greater press 
attention and more serious government denunciations than were 
typical in the 1980's.  As noted above, local women's groups 
say that violence against children remains a serious problem.

     People with Disabilities

There is neither local legislation nor regulations within the 
Labor Code which prohibit discrimination against the physically 
disabled in employment, education, or the provision of other 
state services.  The Handicapped Section of the Labour 
Department, which is concerned with finding jobs for the 
disabled, unsuccessfully advocated the introduction of such 
legislation in the 1980's.  Similarly, there is no legislation 
mandating provision of handicapped access to public 
thoroughfares or public or private buildings.  However, there 
are interest groups that have lobbied for this type of 
legislation from time to time, but so far without success.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers have the right to form and belong to trade unions and 
to strike, and they freely exercise these rights.  There are 
two major unions and several smaller ones, representing various 
sectors of labor.  The civil service union, the National Union 
of Public Workers (NUPW), is completely independent of any 
political party or the Government.  The largest union, the 
Barbados Workers' Union (BWU), was historically closely 
associated with the governing Democratic Labour Party.  
However, in February Leroy Trotman, BWU General Secretary and 
president of the Caribbean Congress of Labor, resigned from the 
DLP while remaining in Parliament as an independent 
representative.  Trotman resigned because of a perceived 
conflict between his role as union leader and his role as 
parliamentarian.  The latter required him to support the 
Government's economic stabilization and austerity measures 
which were viewed as setting back union achievements and 
harming workers.  Nevertheless, Trotman's deputy in the BWU 
remained a government backbencher in Parliament.

Trade unionists' personal and property rights are given full 
protection under law.  Strikes are prohibited only in the water 
and electric utilities and among the security forces; all other 
private and public sector employees are permitted to strike.  

There was less industrial action in 1993 than 1992, despite 
severe cutbacks in personnel in the private sector.  In the 
public sector, wage cuts, layoffs, and efforts to privatize 
state-run enterprises continued.  In the summer, public, 
private, and union sector leaders signed a tripartite wage 
policy accord that called for a 2-year wage freeze.  Any 
increases in wages will be tied to productivity increases by 
particular workers or by particular enterprises.  Some critics 
argued that the wage policy undermined the right of unions to 
bargain collectively because it forestalled any new companywide 
or industrywide negotiations for wage and benefit increases.


Trade unions are free to form federations and are in fact 
affiliated with a variety of regional and international labor 
organizations.  The main regional labor organization, the 
Caribbean Congress of Labor, has its headquarters in Bridgetown 
and conducts many of its seminars and other programs in 
Barbados.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to organize and to bargain collectively is provided 
by law and respected in practice.  In 1992 over 25 percent of 
the working population was organized, but a major loss of jobs 
in the economy has resulted in a reduction in union membership.
The BWU reported that it alone lost about 2,000 members in 1993 
in the transport, private, and public sectors as a result of 
economic conditions.  Normally, wages and working conditions 
are negotiated through the collective bargaining process, but 
this was influenced by the tripartite wage accord described 
above.

Employers have no legal obligation to recognize unions under 
the Trade Union Act of 1964, but most do so when a majority of 
their employees signify a desire to be represented by a 
registered union.  While there is no specific law prohibiting 
antiunion discrimination, the courts provide a method of redress
for employees alleging unfair dismissal.  The courts commonly 
award monetary compensation but rarely order reemployment.

There are no manufacturing or special areas where collective 
bargaining rights are legally or administratively impaired.  
Barbados has no specially designated export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Forced or compulsory labor is prohibited by the Constitution 
and does not exist.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum working age of 16 is generally observed.  
Minimum age limitations are reinforced by compulsory primary 
and secondary education policies, which require school 
attendance until age 16.  Occasionally, especially among 
migrant worker families, children assist in agricultural 
production during peak season.  The Labour Department has a 
small cadre of labor inspectors who conduct spot investigations 
of enterprises and check records to verify compliance with the 
law.  These inspectors are authorized to take legal action 
against an employer who is found to have underage workers.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum wages for specified categories of workers are 
administratively established and enforced by law.  Only two 
categories of workers have a formally regulated minimum wage-- 
household domestics and shop assistants (entry level commercial 
workers).  Household domestics receive a minimum wage of about 
$32.50 (bds $65.00) per week.  There are two age-related 
minimum wage categories for shop assistants.  The adult minimum 
wage for shop assistants is $1.87 (bds $3.75) per hour; the 
juvenile minimum wage for shop assistants is $1.62 (bds $3.25) 
per hour.  Agricultural workers (i.e., sugar plantation 
workers) receive a minimum wage as a matter of practice, but 
such compensation is not found in legislation.

The minimum wage for shop assistants is marginally sufficient 
to meet minimum living standards; most employees earn more.  In 
1992 an International Labor Organization (ILO) Committee of 
Experts (COE) cited Barbados for not adhering to the ILO 
convention on equal remuneration in its wage differentials in 
the sugar industry.  The COE admonished the Government to 
ensure the application of the principle of equal remuneration 
for work of equal value to male and female workers in the sugar 
industry or to provide further information on job descriptions 
which might justify such wage distinction.  This case was not 
resolved at year's end.

The standard legal workweek is 40 hours in 5 days, and the law 
requires overtime payment for hours worked in excess of that.  
Barbados accepts ILO conventions, standards, and other sectoral 
conventions regarding maximum hours of work.  However, there is 
no general legislation that covers all occupations.  Workers 
are guaranteed a minimum of 3 weeks' annual leave.  All workers 
are covered by unemployment benefits legislation, and by 
national insurance (social security).  A comprehensive 
government-sponsored health program offers subsidized treatment 
and medication.

Under the Factories Act of 1983, which sets out the officially 
recognized occupational safety and health standards, the 
Department of Labour enforces health and safety standards and 
follows up to ensure that problems cited are corrected by 
management.  Workers have a limited right to remove themselves 
from dangerous or hazardous job situations without jeopardizing 
their continued employment.  The Factories Act requires that in 
certain sectors firms employing more than 50 workers set up a 
safety committee.  This committee can challenge the decisions 
of management concerning the occupational safety and health 
environment.  Recently, however, trade unions called on the 
Government to increase the number of factory inspectors in 
order to enforce existing and proposed safety and health 
legislation more effectively, and to follow up to ensure that 
problems cited are corrected by management.  Government-operated
corporations in particular were accused of doing a "poor job" 
in health and safety; the Government promised to undertake 
inspections of government-run corporations and manufacturing 
plants as a priority.  (###)



[end of document]

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