The 1981 Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda explicitly protects the rights to life, liberty, security of person, and the protection of the law. However, a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life unlawfully if he dies as the result of the use,
to such extent and such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justifiable-
a. for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property;
b. in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
c. for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or
d. in order lawfully to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence, or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war.Section 4(2), 1981 Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda.
Section 7(1) provides that: "No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other such treatment."
Section 13 protects the rights of freedom of assembly and association. According to Paragraph 1:
Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right peacefully to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the promotion and protection of his interests.
These rights are, though, subject to legal restrictions that are reasonably required
- in the interests of defence, public order, public morality or public health; or
- for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons; or
- that impose restrictions upon public officers that are reasonably required for the proper performance of their functions,
and except so far as that ... is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||No|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||State Party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||No|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||Not party|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1948 Charter of the Organization of American States||State Party|
|1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights||Not party|
|Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights||N/A|
Police Use of Force
The 1952 Police Act of Antigua and Barbuda does not set out in detail the conditions for the lawful use of force by the Royal Police of Antigua and Barbuda. Under the 1967 Police (Discipline) Regulations, a police officer may be disciplined if he or she exercises authority in an unlawful or excessive manner, such as by using "any unnecessary violence to any prisoner or other person with whom he may be brought into contact during the execution of his duty". The 2017 Police Amendment Bill of Antigua and Barbuda does not affect the domestic rules governing police use of force.
There is no independent, civilian police oversight body in Antigua and Barbuda. The Professional Standards Department within the Police is empowered to consider complaints made against police officers. The United Nations Team noted in the context of the Universal Periodic Review of Antigua and Barbuda that in January 2015, the Police Commissioner was suspended due to allegations that he had failed to act on four complaints against other officers.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Antigua and Barbuda, the Committee against Torture expressed its concern at "allegations of police brutality against arrested and detained persons". The Committee was "deeply concerned at reports of physical abuse against foreign nationals at St. John’s police station". It called on Antigua and Barbuda to do the following:
(a) Measures are taken to strengthen the oversight of the police force, particularly with regard to the treatment of persons in custody;
(b) All complaints of police brutality and excessive use of force are promptly and thoroughly investigated in an impartial manner by a fully independent body; that there is no institutional or hierarchical connection between investigators and alleged perpetrators; and that those accused are prosecuted and, if found guilty, sentenced to penalties proportionate to the gravity of their acts;
(c) The authorities launch investigations on their own initiative whenever there are reasonable grounds to believe that an act of police brutality or excessive use of force has been committed;
(d) Alleged perpetrators of police brutality or excessive use of force are immediately suspended from duty during the investigations in order to prevent reprisals or obstruction of investigations, while also ensuring that the principle of presumption of innocence is observed.
Antigua and Barbuda adhered to the ICCPR in July 2019 and has therefore not yet come before the Human Rights Committee.
Antigua and Barbuda is not subject to the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.