Under the law and in practice, the judiciary is independent and trials are fair and public. The country has no local government, and is divided into six parishes that are run by the central government. There are 11 lower courts divided among three magisterial districts that have both criminal and civil jurisdiction, as well as a family court. Although St. The Ministry of Legal Affairs houses the Attorney General's Chambers and is tasked with providing legal advice to the government and updating the country's laws.
The attorney general serves in a cabinet position as the Minister of Legal Affairs. A proposed amendment to the constitution went to a public vote in though did not receive the two-thirds majority required to be adopted. The constitution mandated the creation of an Ombudsman, a position that still does not exist in the country.
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The judicial system suffers from long delays in preliminary inquiries for serious crimes, and there is currently a backlog of cases in the magistrate's court in the capital Kingstown. Delays are typically attributed to staff shortages in the judiciary. In addition, there are reports of witnesses refusing to cooperate out of fear of retaliation.
Steps have since been taken to address this, however, notably the building of a new facility, the Belle Isle Correctional Facility, in In , authorities began transferring prisoners to Belle Isle in order to reduce overcrowding in the prison in Kingstown which remained operational. Corruption among prison staff allowed prisoners to obtain drugs and weapons, and there are many reports of abuses of prisoners by guards. Conditions are also poor at facilities for juvenile offenders. Independent human rights observers are permitted to visit prisons. Vincent and the Grenadines has an extremely high recidivism rate for convicts as much as 75 percent due to lack of economic prospects for former prisoners.
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The St. In addition, Freedom House notes that there have been allegations of drug-related corruption within the police force, though there have not been any high-level court cases involving police corruption. Citizen complaints of police misconduct are handled by the police force's complaints department, although the government does not provide records about how many complaints are received or what action has been taken. There is also an oversight committee that investigates police misconduct. However, as previously noted, St.
U.S. State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2006: Saint Lucia
Vincent and the Grenadines does not have an ombudsman and human rights groups in the country continue to call for the establishment of one to properly investigate civilian complaints about police abuse. The country's Financial Intelligence Unit is noted as being very effective, working closely with other institutions such as the Coast Guard to identify traffickers and stop money laundering. The country does not have regular military forces, relying on the Regional Security System, headquartered in Barbados, for national defence.
Among other areas, the plan will focus on good governance, though no information was publicly available at the time of writing as to what targets the government will set for the justice and security sectors. In , St. Vincent and the Grenadines adopted a Code for Prosecutors to strengthen the country's prosecution processes, having developed the code with the help of the British High Commission. The code helps standardise and modernise the prosecuting process, and establishes technical and ethical guidelines for prosecutors to follow.
Also in ,the Supreme Court and Family Courts took steps to address witness intimidation by installing a video-link facility for vulnerable and child witnesses to testify. In , the country implemented a law making it mandatory for interviews of defendants accused of serious offenses such as homicide and human trafficking to be electronically recorded, in an effort to improve permanent and accurate record keeping. There is currently an effort underway to implement a national prosecution service.
Kitts and Nevis. The argument for the establishment of an NPS is that it eliminates the current practice in which, at the magisterial level police both investigate and prosecute criminal offenses. Advocates of the NPS say that prosecutorial decision-making should be placed in the hands of an independent, impartial agency. Some have also have argued that it is unconstitutional for the DPP not to control the proceedings currently conducted by police prosecutors.
Furthermore, creation of the NPS would help in streamlining prosecution proceedings and improve efficiency and inter-agency cooperation. In recent years, the government has established a new forensic drug laboratory to expedite drug-related prosecutions and the police established a Rapid Response Unit RRU to target drug and firearms offenses. Vincent and the Grenadines has received counter-narcotics equipment, professional development and training for St.
Vincent and the Grenadines' security forces, and help implementing workforce programmes for at-risk youth. The House of Assembly of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a unicameral parliament.
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The Governor General appoints the House's six senators, while the people elect 15 members. Parliament is constitutionally independent of the executive and has the powers to make and pass laws.
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The Public Accounts Committee is a standing committee tasked with overseeing and investigating government activities. Vincent and the Grenadines has traditionally been very open to cooperation both with its fellow Caribbean nations and with international partners. Vincent and the Grenadines ranked 36 th out of countries, giving it the fourth best ranking in the Caribbean.
While media allegations of official corruption are not uncommon, corruption is not endemic and there is a reasonably safe environment for engagement on security and justice reform issues. There is an opportunity to assist the government in the implementation of the National Prosecution Service which will go some way to improving efficiency further. Other human rights problems included corruption by officials, domestic violence, discrimination against women, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, and child labor. The State Department identified police mistreatment of suspects, detainees and prisoners; poor prison conditions and a slow judicial system; and violence and discrimination against women as the most serious human rights issues in Trinidad and Tobago.
It said other human rights problems in the twin-island republic involved high-profile cases of alleged bribery and corruption; inadequate services for vulnerable populations, such as children and persons with disabilities; and laws that discriminate against LGBTI persons. It said other human rights problems included child abuse and discrimination against persons with disabilities. In St.
Lucia, the report said the most serious human rights problems included long delays in investigating reports of unlawful police killings, abuse of suspects and prisoners by the police, and continued postponements of trials and sentencing. Vincent and the Grenadines, the State Department said gender-based violence and police impunity were the most serious human rights problems.
The department said other human rights problems included official corruption; lack of government transparency; discrimination; child abuse; and laws that discriminate against LTBI persons. Kitts and Nevis, the most serious human rights problems were poor prison conditions and discrimination and violence against women, the State Department said. Other human rights problems, it said, included government corruption, child abuse, and discrimination against the LGBTI community.
The most significant human rights abuses in Dominica, according to the State Department, included domestic and sexual violence against women and children. Other human rights problems included laws that discriminated against LGBTI persons and discrimination against persons with disabilities, the department said. It said the Dominica government took steps to prosecute officials who committed abuses, and that there were no known cases of impunity.
On the other hand, the most significant human rights abuses in Grenada included poor prison conditions, violence against women, child abuse, and laws against LGBTI persons, according to the report.