The 1983 Constitution of Saint Kitts and Nevis guarantees the rights to life, security, and to freedom from inhuman treatment.
Section 4 of the Constitution protects the right to life but it is stipulated that this right is not violated if a person
dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in 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, or a person lawfully detained;
c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or
d) in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence,
or if he dies as the result of a lawful act of war.
Under international law, it is not permissible for the police to use firearms purely in the defence of property.
Under the Constitution, every person in Saint Christopher and Nevis is entitled to the right to freedom of assembly.
The Constitution does not otherwise regulate the use of force by law enforcement agencies.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Not party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||N/A|
|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
Policing is provided by the Royal Saint Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF). The 2009 Saint Kitts and Nevis Police Act does not specifically regulate police use of force, though it does accord power to arrest without a warrant.
Police use of force is governed by the Criminal Code. Section 32 regulates use of force in arrest, detention, or recapture of person committing an indictable offence. Under this provision, if a person who has committed an indictable offence avoids arrest by resistance or flight or escapes or endeavours to escape from custody, the police is entitled to
use any force which is necessary for his arrest, detention, or recapture, and may kill him, if he cannot by any means otherwise be arrested, detained, or retaken.
Under Section 33, a police officer who seeks to arrest, detain, or search another person in connection with a non-indictable offence, "may justify any necessary force not extending to a blow, wound, or grievous harm, if the other person has notice or believes that the force is used by virtue of ... [requisite] authority".
In accordance with Section 45, an unlawful or riotous assembly may be suppressed or dispersed using reasonable force.
in 2014, the Saint Kitts and Nevis Parliament passed the Police Complaints Act, which established the independent Police Complaints Commission. The Act also provided for the establishment of the Police Complaints Unit/Office of Professional Standards, which is responsible for receiving public complaints against police officers and investigating and determining the course of action to be taken. The independent Commission has oversight over any investigation.
In its 2015 paper for the Universal Periodic Review of Saint Kitts and Nevis under the United Nations Human Rights Council, the subregional UN team stated that, since the 2011 UPR,
there had been occasional media reports of police brutality and that, in 2013, it had been reported that riot police dragged and beat the former leader of the opposition People’s Action Movement during a march that had been previously sanctioned by the security forces.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is not a party to the Inter-American Convention of Human Rights and has not recognised the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.