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TITLE:  ST. KITTS AND NEVIS HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                      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 in accordance with certain 
enumerated procedures.  A Prime Minister, a Cabinet, and a 
Legislative Assembly govern the country.  The Governor General, 
with largely ceremonial duties, is the titular Head of State 
and must call general elections at least every 5 years.  After 
national elections in November 1993, Prime Minister Kennedy 
Simmonds and his People's Action Movement 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 mixed economy is 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 1994, 
although the Government continued to restrict access by the 
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

Although there were no political or extrajudicial killings in 
St. Kitts and Nevis in 1994, there were two instances of 
politically charged murder.  In October the son of the Deputy 
Prime Minister (and Minister of Education) and his fiancee 
disappeared and were later found murdered in an incident 
apparently related to drug trafficking.  On October 13, the 
Chief of the police Special Branch and Criminal Investigation 
Division, who led the investigation into these disappearances, 
was murdered as he left his home.  Police arrested a suspect 
with drug trafficking ties, and the case remains under 
investigation.  In both instances the Government and the 
opposition accused each other of involvement with drug 
traffickers.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.  
However, there was an instance of politically charged 
disappearance.  In July the former Kittitian ambassador to the 
United Nations, his wife and family, were lost at sea during a 
Sunday pleasure boat outing.  Extensive air and sea searches 
were conducted, but no evidence or remains were discovered.  In 
the 1980's the former ambassador had been publicly accused of 
money laundering and drug trafficking, and this case, like the 
two instances of murder described above, is the subject of 
charges and countercharges between the Government and the 
opposition.

     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.
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

There were no reports of arbitrary government or police 
interference in the private lives of individuals.  The law 
requires judicially issued warrants 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, for the most part, the authorities respected these 
provisions in practice.  However, the Government owns the only 
radio and television station on St. Kitts, and these media 
generally did not adequately publicize 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.  
Political parties organized demonstrations, rallies, and public 
meetings regularly during the 1993 election campaign, usually 
without government interference.  Opposition parties did claim 
government intimidation in the form of excessive police 
presence or armed nonparty supporters during the campaign and 
during subsequent opposition protests, which included violence, 
following the election.  The December 1993 14-day state of 
emergency successfully ended the demonstrations.  Government 
security forces patrolled the nation extensively to preempt 
protests scheduled for June 1, the 6-month anniversary of the 
1993 election.  Opposition members claimed that nonuniformed 
police roamed the countryside in unmarked cars during the 
predawn hours of June 1 to intimidate potential protesters.  
The Government asserted that its preemptive patrolling was 
warranted by the looting and burning that had occurred in the 
street marches in December 1993.

     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

The Government does not restrict travel within or departure 
from the country.

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

Citizens are free 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.  In the November 1993 elections, Prime 
Minister Kennedy Simmonds' People's Action Movement (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.  The island of Nevis has 
considerable self-government and its own legislature.

Although there are no impediments in law or in practice to the 
participation of women in leadership roles in government or 
political parties, St. Kitts and Nevis has only one female 
Member of Parliament.  However, women do 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.

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

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, 
place of origin, birth out of wedlock, political opinion or 
affiliation, color, sex, or creed.

     Women

The role of women in society is not restricted by law but is 
circumscribed by culture and tradition.  According to a 
government 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 and a few 
convictions.  A special police unit works closely with the 
Ministry of Women's Affairs to investigate domestic violence 
and rape cases.  A nongovernmental organization opened a 
women's center on Nevis which provides counseling and 
information, and conducts workshops for women.  No such 
facility exists on St. Kitts.  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.

     Children

The Government is committed to children's rights and welfare 
and has incorporated most of the provisions of the U.N. 
Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic 
legislation.  There is no evidence of societal abuse or 
violence against children.

     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 law permits the police, civil 
service, and other organizations 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 1994.  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.  The law prohibits 
antiunion discrimination, but does not require employers found 
guilty 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 industrywide.  The Labour 
Commission mediates all types of disputes 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 occur 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

A 1984 law, updated in 1994, establishes minimum wage rates for 
various categories of workers, such as domestic servants, 
retail employees, casino workers, and skilled workers.  The 
minimum wage varies from $56.18 (EC$150) per week for full-time 
domestic workers to $74.91 (EC$200) per week 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.  The Labour 
Commission undertakes regular wage inspections and special 
investigations when it receives complaints; it requires 
employers found in violation 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.  The 
law provides that workers receive 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.  The Labour 
Commissioner settles disputes over safety conditions.  Workers 
have the right to report unsafe work environments without 
jeopardy to continued employment; inspectors then investigate 
such claims.


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[end of document]

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