The 1979 Constitution of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines provides for the protection of the rights to life and to freedom from inhumane treatment. However, it is specified that the right to life 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 of 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.S. 2(2), 1979 Constitution of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Section 11(1) provides for the right to assemble freely but is subject to the following exceptions in paragraph 2 of Section 11:
to the extent that the law in question makes provision-
a. that is reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health;
b. that is reasonably required for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons; or
c. that imposes restrictions upon public officers that are reasonably required for the proper performance of their functions,
and except so far as that provisions or, as the case may be, the thing done under the authority thereof is shown not to be reasonably justifiable in a democratic society.
The Constitution provides for both a Police Force and a Police Service Commission.Ss. 84 and 85, 1979 Constitution of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||State Party|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||State Party|
|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 Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force is governed by the 1947 Police Act (as amended). Section 57(c) of the Act stipulates that a constable shall:
refrain from striking or using force towards any person in charge, other than may be absolutely necessary for safe custody and strictly in his own defence....
The Act does not regulate the use of firearms by the Police though it does lay down prizes "for musketry".S. 107, 1947 Police Act (as amended).The 1995 Firearms Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines also does not regulate the use of firearms by the Police Force. The Constitutional provisions, which apply to any use of firearms by the police, are more permissive than international law allows.
In 2009, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines' Cabinet appointed a police oversight body of three people, whose task is "to investigate, adjudicate and report upon cases of excesses committed against persons by members of the police force". The Commissioner of Police stated that people can make complaints against police officers directly to this civilian oversight body, to the Attorney General, or to the Director of Public Prosecutions. There were calls, however, for a more robust body with "greater transparency".
In 2016, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines reported for the Universal Periodic Review under the Human Rights Council, stating that:
There is a Public Relations and Complaints department which addresses complaints by citizens of alleged misconduct, assault and other forms of abuse by police officers. Serious [complaints] are escalated to an independent Oversight Committee comprising representatives from civil society organisations.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
In its 2019 Concluding Observations on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Human Rights Committee was concerned that torture is not a criminal offence in the Criminal Code and that there is no independent body to investigate complaints of and prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment perpetrated by law enforcement officials.
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has not come before the Committee against Torture in recent years.
In its 2017 Concluding Observations on St Vincent and the Grenadines, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated that it remained "concerned about complaints by children of being subjected to police brutality".
In the 2016 Universal Periodic Review working group under the Human Rights Council, Spain recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:
Adopt measures to combat the problem of police abuse, through norms aiming at sanctioning such conduct and to prevent such abuses, strengthening the training of law enforcement officials....
while the United States recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:
Partner with appropriate international agencies to strengthen national capacities to collect, process, and analyse relevant human rights statistical information concerning police misconduct and prison conditions....
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is not a state party to the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.