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TITLE:  ST. KITTS AND NEVIS HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                      
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE

                 ST. KITTS AND NEVIS


St. Kitts and Nevis, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, 
is a small two-island state with a democratic, parliamentary 
form of government.  The Constitution provides the smaller 
island of Nevis considerable self-government, as well as the 
right to secede from the Federation if certain enumerated 
procedures are followed.  The country is governed by a Prime 
Minister, a Cabinet, and a Legislative Assembly.  General 
elections must be called at least every 5 years.  The Governor 
General, with largely ceremonial duties, is the titular Head of 
State.  In national elections held on November 29, Prime 
Minister Kennedy Simmonds and his People's Action Movement won 
four parliamentary seats.  The St. Kitts Labor Party, led by 
Dr. Denzil Douglas, also won four seats and polled a majority 
of the popular votes.  However, Prime Minister Simmonds formed 
a coalition with the Nevis Reformation Party to retain control 
of the Government.

Security forces consist of a small police force, which includes 
a 50-person Special Services Unit that receives some light 
infantry training, and a small coast guard.  The police were 
unable to contain violence after the disputed elections, but 
members of the Regional Security System (RSS) from neighboring 
Eastern Caribbean islands restored order.

St. Kitts and Nevis has a mixed economy based on sugar cane, 
tourism, and light industry.  Most commercial enterprises are 
privately owned, but the sugar industry (the country's largest 
economic enterprise) and 85 percent of all arable land are 
owned by a state corporation.  Economic growth continued at 
about 6 percent, due partly to agricultural exports and to 
investor confidence in plans to develop further a deep water 
port facility and the southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts.

Human rights continued to be generally respected during 1993.  
However, the Governor General imposed a state of emergency 
following violent protest demonstrations over the appointment 
of the minority coalition Government.  The 12-hour curfew also 
imposed was gradually lifted, and the state of emergency was 
withdrawn after 14 days.  The Government continued to restrict 
access of the political opposition to government-controlled 
media.


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 extrajudicial killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

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

Law enforcement authorities abide by the constitutional 
prohibitions against the use of torture or other forms of 
inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.  Family members, 
attorneys, and clergy are permitted to visit detainees 
regularly.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and 
this provision is respected in practice.  The law requires that 
persons detained be brought before a court within 48 hours.  
Even under the special powers granted during the 14-day state 
of emergency, detainees were afforded their constitutional 
rights to a court appearance within 48 hours.  Few curfew 
violators were detained and less that 10 people were arrested 
in connection with the demonstrations.

There were no reported cases of exile. 

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The Constitution provides that every person accused of a crime 
must receive a fair, speedy, and public trial, and these 
requirements are generally observed.  The judiciary, a part of 
the Eastern Caribbean legal system, is highly regarded and 
independent.  Final appeal may be made to the Privy Council in 
the United Kingdom.  There are no military or political 
courts.  Legal assistance is available for indigent defendants.


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

Neither the Government nor the police interfere arbitrarily in 
the private lives of individuals.  Judicially issued warrants 
are required to search private homes.

Section 2  Respect For Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, 
and these provisions are, for the most part, respected in 
practice.  However, the Government owns the only radio and 
television station on St. Kitts, and these media generally did 
not publicize adequately rallies and conventions held by the 
opposition political party.  There is a religious television 
station and a privately owned radio station on Nevis.  

St. Kitts and Nevis does not have a daily newspaper; each of 
the major political parties publishes a weekly or biweekly 
newspaper.  The papers are free to criticize the Government and 
do so regularly and vigorously.  International news 
publications are readily available.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for the right of peaceful assembly.  
Organized demonstrations, rallies, and public meetings 
sponsored by political parties occur regularly, usually taking 
place without government interference.  However, during 1993, 
opposition parties complained of government intimidation at 
political rallies in the form of excessive police presence or 
armed nonparty supporters.  After a postelection demonstration 
turned violent, the Government imposed a state of emergency.  
The state of emergency, aimed at crowd control and violence 
avoidance, prohibited public gatherings of more than two people 
and all political rallies.  The state of emergency successfully 
quelled the violence and was suspended after 14 days.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for the free exercise of religion, 
and religious practices are not restricted.  All groups are 
free to maintain links with coreligionists in other countries.


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

Travel inside and outside the country is unrestricted. 

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

Citizens are able to change their government by peaceful 
means.  A vigorous multiparty political system exists in which 
political parties are free to conduct their activities.  
Periodic elections are held in which all citizens 18 years of 
age and older may register and vote by secret ballot.

The Legislative Assembly has 11 elected seats; 8 for St. Kitts 
and 3 for Nevis.  Before the November 29 elections, Prime 
Minister Kennedy Simmonds' People's Action Movement (PAM) held 
a majority of seats, but the dismissal of the Deputy Prime 
Minister following charges of corruption and growing support 
for the opposition St. Kitts Labour Party created a hotly 
contested race for political leadership.  The PAM won only four 
of eight seats at stake in St. Kitts and came in second in the 
popular vote.  The St. Kitts Labour Party, led by Dr. Denzil 
Douglas, won the remaining four seats and also polled a 
majority of the popular votes.  The Concerned Citizens' 
Movement (CCM) won two of the three Nevis seats; the Nevis 
Reformation Party won the remaining one.  Prime Minister 
Simmonds formed a coalition with the Nevis Reformation Party to 
retain control of the Government.  However, since that 
coalition represents less than half of the total seats in 
parliament, it is vulnerable to a vote of no confidence by the 
combined opposition parties.

The island of Nevis has considerable self-government and its 
own legislature.  In 1992 Vance Amory and the CCM won control 
of the Nevis Assembly by defeating the Nevis Reformation Party, 
which was closely allied with the PAM.  The two national 
parliament seats won by the CCM in the November 29 election 
gave Amory the options of forming a government with either St. 
Kitts party or joining the Labour Party to support a successful 
no-confidence vote.

Although there are no de facto or de jure impediments to the 
participation of women in leadership roles in government or 
political parties, St. Kitts and Nevis has only one female 
member of parliament.  Women also hold such high government 
offices as permanent secretary and are active within the 
political parties.


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 been formed.  There were no requests for 
investigations or visits by international human rights groups 
in 1993.

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

     Women

The role of women in society is not restricted by law but is 
circumscribed by culture and tradition.  The Government created 
the Ministry of Women's Affairs to help redefine the role of 
women in society, to ensure that women's rights are promoted, 
and to provide counseling for abused women.  According to a 
Ministry official, violence against women is a problem, but 
many women are reluctant to file complaints or pursue them in 
the courts.  Despite this reluctance, there were publicly 
reported cases of both domestic violence and rape in 1993 and a 
few convictions.  A special police unit works closely with the 
Ministry of Women's Affairs to investigate domestic violence 
and rape cases.  The Government does not condone abuse of women 
and it is not a common practice.  

     Children

The Government has adopted through legislation most of the 
provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.  
An estimated 20 percent of national revenue is allocated to 
child development issues.  

     People with Disabilities

Although there is no legislation to protect the disabled or to 
mandate accessibility for them, the Government and the 
Constitution prohibit discrimination in employment, education, 
and other state services.


Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right of all workers to form 
and belong to trade unions.  The police, civil service, and 
other organizations are permitted to have associations which 
serve as unions.  The major labor union, the St. Kitts Trades 
and Labour Union, is affiliated with the opposition St. Kitts 
Labour Party and is active in all sectors of the economy.  
There is also an independent teachers' union, a union 
representing dockworkers in the capital city, and a 
taxi-drivers' association.

The right to strike, while not specified by law, is well 
established and respected in practice.  There were no major 
strikes in 1993.  Unions are free to form federations or 
confederations and to affiliate with international 
organizations.  The islands' unions maintain a variety of 
international ties.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Labor unions are free to organize and to negotiate for better 
wages and benefits for union members.  Antiunion discrimination 
is prohibited, but employers found guilty are not required to 
rehire employees fired due to antiunion discrimination.  
However, the employer must pay lost wages and severance pay.  
There is no legislation governing the organization and 
representation of workers, and employers are not legally bound 
to recognize a union, but in practice employers do so if a 
majority of workers polled wish to organize.  Collective 
bargaining takes place on a workplace-by-workplace basis, not 
industry wide.  The Labour Commission is prepared to mediate 
all types of disputes, including over wages, rights, or 
interests, between labor and management on an ad hoc basis.  In 
practice, however, few disputes actually go to the Commission 
for resolution.  If neither the Commission nor the Minister of 
Labour can resolve the dispute, legislation allows for a case 
to be brought before a civil court.  

There are no export processing zones.  

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

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


     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum legal working age is 14.  The Labour Ministry 
relies heavily on school truant officers and the Community 
Affairs Division to monitor compliance, which they do 
effectively.  Local law mandates compulsory education up to the 
age of 16. 

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum wage rates for domestic servants and retail store 
employees were established by law in 1984 and updated in 1989.  
The minimum wage is $37.04 per week for domestic workers and 
$33.33 per day for skilled workers.  These provide an adequate, 
though Spartan, living for a wage earner and family; many 
workers supplement wages by keeping small animals such as goats 
and chickens.  Most people live in extended families where 
there may be more than one wage earner.  The Labour Commission 
undertakes regular wage inspections and special investigations 
when complaints are received; employers found in violation are 
required to pay back wages.  

The law provides for a 42- to 44-hour workweek, but the common 
practice is 40 hours in 5 days.  Although not required by law, 
workers receive at least one 24-hour rest period per week.  
Workers are guaranteed a minimum annual vacation of 2 weeks.  
While there are no specific health and safety regulations, the 
Factories Law provides general health and safety guidance to 
Labour Ministry inspectors.  Disputes over safety conditions 
are settled by the Labour Commissioner.


[end of document]

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