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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 and is represented 
by an appointed Governor General.  Prime Minister Owen Arthur 
is the Head of Government and governs with an appointed 
Cabinet.  Two major and one minor political parties and several 
independent candidates contested free and fair national 
elections in September.

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

The economy is based on tourism, services, light manufacturing, 
and agriculture, which makes it vulnerable to external economic 
developments.  Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) exceeds 
$5,000 per year.  In order to stimulate demand and reverse a 
3-year decline in GDP and employment, the Government decided in 
May 1993 to abandon attempts to meet economic targets set in 
consultation with the International Monetary Fund.  
Nevertheless, Barbados experienced a cyclical economic recovery 
in 1994.

Barbadians enjoy a wide range of rights and freedoms, and the 
Government respects constitutional provisions regarding human 
rights.  Principal human rights problems continued to be 
societal violence against women and children and instances of 
excessive use of force by police.


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.

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.  In 1994 the coroner returned an 
open verdict which exonerated the police from responsibility 
for Jordan's death; the report said excessive drugs in his 
system caused 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 
Caribbean Human Rights Network and the local press reported 
numerous allegations of coerced confessions.  There continued 
to be credible reports that law enforcement officials sometimes 
used force during detention to extract confessions from 

Recently implemented police procedures provide that the police 
may question suspects and other persons they hold 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, the detaining authority must submit a written 
report to the deputy commissioner.  The authorities must 
approve and record all movements of the detainee between 
stations.  The Caribbean Human Rights Network is satisfied that 
the authorities adhere to these basic principles.

Barbados is in the forefront of an initiative to standardize 
police procedures throughout the English-speaking Caribbean 
region.  The authorities issued firearms to special units and 
some foot patrols in high-crime areas in response to the 1993 
shooting death of a policeman and a rise in gun- and 
drug-related crime.  Aside from this, the Barbados police force 
is mainly unarmed, in keeping with its British traditions.

     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.  The Government generally respects 
these provisions in practice.  Criminal defendants have the 
right to counsel, and attorneys have ready access to their 
clients.  The authorities do not use exile 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.  The 
law presumes defendants 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 

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.  The Government 
does not routinely interfere in the private lives of its 
citizens.  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, 
sometimes without warrants.  The Government neither censors 
mail nor restricts the receipt of foreign correspondence or 

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
the authorities respect these rights in practice.  There are 
five radio stations, two of which are owned by the Government.  
The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) television service 
(the only television source, excluding direct satellite 
reception) is government owned.  Though CBC is a state 
enterprise, it regularly reported views opposing government 
policies.  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 the Government on a broad span of issues.

The Government does not restrict academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Government observes the constitutional provisions for 
peaceful assembly and private association.  It routinely grants 
the permits required for public demonstrations.  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.  Numerous active religious 
denominations and organizations practice their faiths and 
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.  The most recent occurred in 
September, in which the Barbados Labour Party won a decisive 
victory, gaining a 19-to-8 majority over the Democratic Labour 
Party which had held an 18-to-10 advantage in the 1991 
elections.  The New Democratic Party won one seat, its first 
ever in Parliament.  There are no impediments to participation 
in the political process, and all Barbadians over age 18 may 
vote.  The Prime Minister exercises executive power along with 
the Cabinet of Ministers he appoints, balanced by the bicameral 
Parliament and the judiciary system.

Women are well represented at all levels of government and 
politics, including the Head of State, Governor General Dame 
Nita Barrow.  After the September elections, Prime Minister 
Arthur appointed women to several cabinet-level portfolios.  
For the first time, the Deputy Prime Minister is a woman (she 
also serves concurrently as Foreign Minister).

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.  The Caribbean Human Rights 
Network, a Caribbean-wide human rights organization which has 
its headquarters and a small staff in Barbados, 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 actively participate in all aspects of national life and 
are well-represented at all levels of both the public and 
private sectors.  They form a large percentage of heads of 
household and are not discriminated against in public housing 
or other social welfare programs.  However, violence against 
women and children continued to be a significant social 
problem.  Women's rights groups 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.  It applies equally 
to marriages and to common law relationships.  Criminal 
penalties for violent crimes are the same, regardless of the 
sex of the offender or the victim.  The courts heard a number 
of cases of domestic violence against women involving assault 
or wounding.  Victims may request restraining orders, which the 
courts often issue.  The courts can sentence an offender to 
jail for breaching such an order.  Human rights monitors 
continued to criticize the inconsistency in sentencing for 
rape, incest, and statutory rape, which is often left to the 
discretion of the judge.  They noted that 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.


The Government is committed to children's human rights and 
welfare, although violence against children remains a serious 
problem.  The Child Care Board is the key agency responsible 
for monitoring and responding to the critical welfare needs, 
interests, and rights of children.

     People with Disabilities

Neither local legislation nor regulations within the Labor Code 
prohibit discrimination against the physically disabled in 
employment, education, or the provision of other state 
services.  The Labour Department, which is responsible for 
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.  
Interest groups have lobbied for this type of legislation from 
time to time, but without success.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

Workers freely exercise their right to form and belong to trade 
unions and to strike.  There are two major unions and several 
smaller ones, representing various sectors of labor.  The civil 
service union, the National Union of Public Workers, is 
completely independent of any political party or the 
Government.  The largest union, the Barbados Workers' Union, 
was historically closely associated with the opposition 
Democratic Labour Party.

The law accords full protection to trade unionists' personal 
and property rights.  Another longstanding law prohibits 
strikes against public utilities.  All other private and public 
sector employees are permitted to strike; however, there were 
no strikes or long-term work stoppages in 1994.

Trade unions are free to form federations and are in fact 
affiliated with a variety of regional and international labor 

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The law provides for the right to organize and bargain 
collectively, and the authorities respected it in practice.  
Recent losses of jobs in the economy resulted in a reduction in 
union membership to about 20 percent of the working 
population.  Normally, wages and working conditions are 
negotiated through the collective bargaining process, but a 
tripartite wage policy accord signed in the summer of 1993 
established a 2-year wage freeze, thus impinging on the ability 
of unions to bargain for wage and benefit increases.

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 

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

The Constitution prohibits forced or compulsory labor, and 
there were no reported instances in 1994.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The legal minimum working age of 16 is generally observed.  
Compulsory primary and secondary education policies, which 
require school attendance until age 16, reinforce minimum age 
requirements.  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 may take legal action against an employer who is 
found to have underage workers.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The law sets and the authorities establish minimum wages for 
specified categories of workers.  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, although in actual labor market 
conditions, the prevailing wage is almost double that amount.  
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 

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.  Employers 
must provide workers a minimum of 3 weeks' annual leave.  
Unemployment benefits legislation and national insurance 
(social security) cover all workers.  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 Labour 
Department 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-operated corporations and 
manufacturing plants as a priority.


[end of document]


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