Compilation of UN Information
Accepted and Rejected Recomendations
IV. Developments since last Universal Periodic Review
Advancements in the institutional and legal framework Domestic Violence Act of 2015
9. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Domestic Violence (DV) Act, 2015 is an Act to provide greater protection for victims of domestic violence and to make provision for the granting of protection orders and for matters incidental thereto and connected therewith. The legislation also gives the Court the power to issue an interim protection order against the respondent pending the hearing and determination of proceedings for a protection order if it appears necessary or appropriate to do so in order to ensure the safety and protection of the applicant.
10. The DV Act defines domestic violence as any controlling or abusive behaviour that harms the health, safety or well-being of a person or any child and includes but is not limited to the following:
(a) physical abuse or threats of physical abuse;
(b) sexual abuse or threats of sexual abuse;
(c) emotional, verbal or psychological abuse;
(d) economic abuse;
(h) damage to or destruction of property; or
(i) entry into the applicant’s residence without consent where the parties do not share the same residence.
11. Domestic relationship means a relationship between an applicant and a respondent in any of the following ways:...
(c) they are the parents of a child or are persons who have or had parental responcibility for the child, whether or not at the same time;
(d) they are family members related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption; ...
Children (Care and Adoption) Act of 2011
17. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has in place the Children (Care and Adoption) Act 2011 which provides for the care and protection of children, the operation of adoption services and other related matters. It also incorporates the definitions of child abuse as is outlined within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
18. The provisions within this legislation focus primarily on Mandatory Reporting Procedures for Duty Bearers of children in potentially abusive environments. Duty Bearers are defined clearly in the legislation and negligence or failure to report according to the Protocol to the necessary national authority alludes to engaging in a criminal act and such personnel can be charged and fined or imprisoned accordingly. This Legislation was founded upon the CRC as well as the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Model Family Bills.
19. Punishment provisions for Perpetrators are identified within the Domestic Violence Legislation and executed within the Criminal Code.
Status of Children Act of 2010
20. The Status of Children Act of 2010 provides for the equal status of children and for connected purposes. It defines a child as any person who has attained the age of eighteen. Section 4 of the Act states that the legal distinction in the status of children born within and outside of marriage is abolished and all children shall from the date of commencement of this Act be of equal status. It further recognized the right for parentage testing procedures for the purpose of obtaining evidence with respect to parentage.
Elements of the CRC incorporated into the new legislations
21. The following elements from the CRC have been incorporated into the new Child Care and Adoption Act of 2011 using the OECS reform process:
Article 1 – the child is defined in the same manner;
Article 2 and 23 – the child is not discriminated in any form;
Article 3,8,18,26,28 and 40 – all services are provided for the child as top priority and the best interest is considered;
Article 19,25 and 34 – A child can be protected from abuse with all the necessary systems installed for investigation and assessment;
Article 20 – In-Transit Care Centres and Alternative Foster Care Homes and Residential Institutions are provided for children in need of protection and alternative environments;
Article 21 – The system of Adoption is authorized.
National Child Rights Committee
23. A National Child Rights Committee was established to provide oversight and guidance to the Child Protection Unit. The Child Protection Unit records reports of child abuse, and collaborates with the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) on investigations.
V. Promotion and protection of human rights
National Action Plan to end gender-based violence
Training of duty bearers that protect the rights of women and children
25. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines believes that duty bearers, namely all professionals and community organisations recognised within the law, as having responsibility for the protection of children within the child protection system must be trained. The training of duty bearers codifies the existing family laws that provide protection for women and children. It also strengthens the responding capacity of stakeholders as required by the Mandatory Reporting Provisions, to ensure the enforcement and implementation of the laws.
Anti-violence outreach programme
26. This programme targets schools and communities on strategies to end gender-based violence.
Connecting families in communities campaign
27. This Campaign is aimed at sensitising families in communities on the challenges and solutions for parenting to reduce potential child abuse.
VI. Follow-up to the previous Universal Periodic Review
A. International human rights instruments, mechanisms and institutions
Acceptance of international norms - recommendations 79.2, 79.1, 78.2, 78.1, 78.7, 78.6, 78.3, 78.4, 77.1, 78.5
29. Recognising its obligation to promote and protect human rights, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines acceded to the following conventions within the past six years:
(a) Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict March 29, 2011;
Constitutional and legislative framework – recommendations 79.14, 79.13, 78.15, 79.12, 79.15, 79.3, 79.17, 79.16, 78.16, 79.5, 79.10, 76.19, 76.18, 77.3, 78.9, 79.11, 78.8
37. The laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines does not discriminate against a child based on the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s disability.
38. The Education Act CAP 202 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 2009, Revised Edition provides for corporal punishment as follows:
Section 52 addresses Corporal punishment in schools:
(a) Subject to subsections (6) and (7), a principal may direct that corporal punishment be administered as a last resort to a student –
(i) in accordance with subsection (2); and
(ii) if no other punishment is considered suitable or effective in the particular case.
(b) Corporal punishment may be administered –
(i) by the principal, deputy principal, or a teacher specifically designated by the principal for the purpose;
(ii) in the principal’s office or other private room in the school in the presence of another teacher;
(iii) using an instrument prescribed by the regulations; and
(iv) in conformity with any written guidelines issued by the Chief Education Officer.
(c) Where corporal punishment is administered an entry shall be made in a punishment book which is to be kept in the school for the purpose of indicating the nature and extent of the punishment and the reasons for administering it.
(d) A person, other than a parent, or a person mentioned in subsection (2)(a), who administers corporal punishment to a student on school premises commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars.
(e) A person who administers corporal punishment to a student on school premises contrary to paragraph (b), (c) or (d) of subsection (2) commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of one thousand dollars.
(f) The Minister may, by an order published in the Gazette, suspend or abolish corporal punishment in all schools and a person who administers corporal punishment contrary to such order commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of two thousand dollars.
(g) An order made under subsection (6) shall be laid before the House of Assembly within three months of the date of its making and is subject to annulment by a resolution of the House of Assembly supported by the votes of a majority of the members present and voting.
39. The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has undertaken a number of efforts to address gender based violence including legislative reform, public education, social policy, and social support and policing. The new DV Act provides a legal framework for the protection of children, while the Family Court is the government agency responsible for monitoring and protecting the welfare of children. Non-governmental Organisations concerned with achieving gender equality and ending gender based-violence have also made important contributions to work in this area. However, despite improved action by civil society and the state, a multi-sectoral, multi-level approach to ending gender-based violence is required.
40. The recently passed DV Act 2015 was revised to fully integrate the provisions of the CRC into the reform process making it mandatory that children be considered within the context of a domestic dispute.
B. Human rights education and cooperation with civil society Human rights training – recommendations 76.26, 76.16
46. The training sessions conducted under the auspices of the IOM resulted in the development and inclusion of a syllabus on human rights being included in the training programme of the RSVGPF Training School. Police Officers are more acquainted human rights issues. As a matter of policy, a police officer charged with the responsibility of addressing sensitive matters as it pertains to domestic violence and matters concerning children is present at all times at stations within the state.
Context, statistics, budget, cooperation with civil society – recommendations 77.2, 77.4
51. National Committees were established comprising government departments and NGOs that focus on developing joint responses to dealing with issues affecting families. Some of these committees include the National Committee on the Rights of the Child, the National Child Justice Action Committee, and the National Committee to ending Gender- Based Violence. For the specific purpose of changes to legislation affecting the rights of citizens, Select Committees comprising government departments and NGOs advise the Parliament on provisions that affect the rights of citizens.
52. A National Child Protection and Child Justice Monitoring System was developed to allow for electronic data collection as it relates to these matters for both state and non-state agencies. Additionally, a monitoring and evaluation unit within the Ministry of National Mobilisation was established to analyse social data to inform policies affecting children.
Non-discrimination – recommendations78.18, 78.26, 77.5
53. The Government observes the laws that prohibit discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. The law does not mandate access to buildings for persons with disabilities. However, the government has undertaken to provide such access wherever it is practical to do so.
56. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has moved towards mainstreaming gender in the health, education, agricultural and social services sectors to take into consideration gender identity and recognising the human and reproductive rights of citizens.
Liberty and security – recommendations 76.17
69. The Special Measures Act provides for video testimony by persons considered to be vulnerable victims, children and anyone afraid of giving testimony in open court. Testimony is prerecorded and played via a video link and produced as evidence in real time.
(e) Social Safety Net Programme (Public Assistance) the Ministry of Social Development provides public assistance to indigent, elderly, disabled, and other vulnerable persons particularly children of the poor for housing, transportation, education and meals. It provides monthly monetary assistance of approximately USD $85.00 to over 6000 persons. Additional assistance is provided to the elderly in the form of subsidies for water and electricity.
Right to food – recommendations 76.30, 76.29
86. Overall, the Action Plan will:
(b) strengthen the School Feeding Programme by way of improvement of physical infrastructure and human resources particularly having a nutritionist assigned to the programme;
(d) modify food products offered by the Nutrition Support Programme to make it more relevant to the needs of the client, example baby formula for children with HIV/AIDs, and those who are severely stunted;
Right to health – recommendations 76.24, 76.32, 77.14, 77.13, 77.15
88. The government has undertaken a number of initiatives geared towards addressing the problems associated with juveniles. Two of the key initiatives are the Drug Abuse Resistance Education Programme commonly referred to as the: “DARE Programme”, and the Pan against Crime Initiative (PCI).
89. The DARE Programme was established in February 1997 by the Royal Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. The objectives of the programme include:
(a) to reduce the onset of drug use among the youth;
(b) to promote tolerance and resist violence;
(c) to develop positive relations with police and the community;
(d) to develop positive attitude, building self-esteem among the youth helping them to become and well-adjusted member so of communities.
91. The PCI is organized by the National Commission and Crime Prevention Unit within the Ministry of National Security. This Unit was established to provide alternative solutions for youth susceptible to delinquency. Under the PCI, twelve (12) steel pan sides were established in communities with a history of violence and other criminal activities among juveniles. This Programme was influential in reducing conflict and fostering community cohesion. A number of these sides are now involved in national steel-pan competitions.
92. The Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Planned Parenthood Association in collaboration with the National Family Planning Unit implements programmes to promote adolescent health and reproductive issues.
93. Guidance Counsellors are assigned to secondary schools to identify behavioural problems, to refer cases to relevant entities for follow-up and provide necessary assistance to students.
94. Children 16 years and under receive free medical care at public health centres throughout the State, andante and postnatal care covering all aspects of maternal and child health are also delivered through these community health centres.
95. There is a comprehensive School Health Programme which covers early childhood, primary and secondary schools. This includes identification and treatment of common health problems, immunization and counselling. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines achieved virtually 100 per cent immunization of children.
Right to education – recommendations 77.16, 76.33, 76.31
96. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines embarked on a comprehensive education
revolution at every level. The Government is committed to achieving the following:
(a) expand quality universal access to all educational institutions;
(b) one hundred percent access to early childhood education;
(c) one college/ university graduate per household by 2025;
(d) strengthening financial support for students are all levels;
(e) continue the economically disadvantage programme;
(f) to further improve the existing school feeding programme.
97. The government partners with the providers of early childhood education and care to increase access to and participation in quality early childhood education. Access is free for pupils enrolled in the nine government preschools. The government also provides a subvention to the private providers of early childhood education whose enrolment and standards fulfil certain established criteria.
98. At the primary level, the School Feeding Programme provides pupils with a means of obtaining subsidised, nutritious meals at their respective institutions. This programme deters absenteeism due to hunger, and encourages students to participate in school meaningfully. Additionally, the Ministry of National Mobilisation provides uniform and textbook assistance, as well as social and financial support for needy pupils, thereby enabling their participation in the learning process.
99. Secondary school students are able to benefit from social safety net programmes such as the “Book Loan Scheme”, transportation subsidies, uniform assistance and the Second Chance Initiative for teen mothers.
100. The Book Loan Scheme allows students to rent the majority of their texts for approximately USD$20 for the academic year thus reducing significantly the cost to access education. By subsidising transportation students from even the most remote districts of the country can access their education at a very low cost by using school buses. The Ministry of National Mobilisation administers uniform assistance to economically challenged students by providing the requisite clothing for their institutions. Support for the reintegration of teenage-mothers into the school system occurs through the payment of fees, purchase of books, provision of transportation, and the provision of day-care services for babies. The success of this programme has become a regional best practice of the UN Population Fund. In the meantime, planning is extended to provide support services to young fathers, better preparing them for the role of fatherhood.
101. At the post-secondary level, educational services are provided either free or at a very basic cost. The government subsidises education at this level by financing the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Community College.
102. The government has a policy of providing student loans under the Economically Disadvantaged Student Loan Programme. This allows students falling within the aforementioned socio-economic category access to loans (guaranteed by the State) for tertiary level education. This is in keeping with the vision of having at least one university graduate per household by 2025.
103. The challenges experienced by some students led to the creation of a Student Support Services Unit which provides academic remediation as well as interventions for behaviour modification. Additionally, most schools have a trained Counsellor to provide for students’ psychosocial needs and support school retention. at school.
104. A School Attendance Officer works in conjunction with a Social Worker, the Police and the Ministry of National Mobilisation to track, monitor and bring truant students into compliance.
105. The Street Children Rehabilitation Programme was implemented to address the concern of children living or working on the street and, those at risk of doing so to ensure their return to school. Assistance and parental training are also provided to the parents to care for these children.
106. The Ministry of Education, in conjunction with regional and international partners, continues to strengthen its policies to ensure that the quality of the educational services provided is consistent with the needs of all of its people, irrespective of their socio- economic status.
107. The Education Sector Development Plan (ESDP, 2014-2019) is built on the pillars of quality, relevance, equity, access and participation, with its strategies aligned to the National Economic and Social Development Plan. The ESDP is itself closely linked to the OECS Education Sector Strategy 2012-2021. Given this, the Ministry of Education, National Reconciliation and Ecclesiastical Affairs is able to receive support for the implementation of key strategies from regional and international partners.
108. Some areas of cooperation at the moment are:
• The Child Friendly / Effective Schools plan
• Strengthening Quality in Early Childhood Education (gender, safety issues);
Caribbean Development Bank
• The Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
• Development Plan
• Infusing gender responsiveness into the sector plan;
• The Global Partnership for Education/OECS/World Bank – Strengthening School Leadership; Improving Teacher Professional Development and Curriculum and Assessment;
• UNESCO provides grants for schools to implement projects to improve students’ engagement.
109. Partnerships at the ministerial level have resulted in a One Laptop per Student Initiative to facilitate the integration of ICT into the curriculum. Students received a laptop to assist with their research and creativity and to have access to a wide variety of productivity tools for their education.
110. In reviewing the progress of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, it is worth noting that the country achieved Universal Primary Education in the 1990’s and Universal Access to Secondary Education in 2005/2006. At the primary level, there were 66 institutions for the period 1994/1995 to 2008/2009. In September 2009, two new institutions were opened, one public and the other private/ church affiliated. Currently, there are 57 public and 11 private/ government assisted primary schools. In the secondary sector, there were 21 institutions for the period 1993/1994 – 2004/2005.
111. In September of 2005, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines achieved Universal Secondary Education. Classroom spaces were augmented at existing schools by the construction of timber buildings, through the conversion of primary schools into secondary institutions and through the construction of new and replacement school buildings. There presently are 26 secondary schools which provide learning facilities to the nation’s youth. While there has been an increase in access, there was a reduction of -2.3% in the country’s population from 1991–2001 as indicated in the Population and Housing Census Report of 2001. Similarly, enrolment at both the primary and secondary levels declined from 1990 to present.
112. The Saint Vincent and Grenadines Community College (SVGCC) since inception endeavoured to satisfy the educational needs of both youth and adults. The autonomous body has sought to provide a variety of disciplines in preparation for various vocations.
115. With regard to the support from the health sector, the School Feeding Programme is offered to students at the primary level with the strict cooperation of the Nutrition Support Programme in the Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment. Not only do they oversee the purchase of healthy, wholesome foods, but they also partner with the Ministry of Education, National Reconciliation and Ecclesiastical Affairs in the training of our cooks and food handlers and, with the assistance of the Ministry of Agriculture, in the preparation of varied menus.
116. As part of the initiative to reduce hunger to zero before 2020, the aforementioned ministries will continue to collaborate to provide structures to support children’s nutrition to enhance their overall development.
117. The Ministry of Health, Wellness and the Environment conducts audiology and vision tests on students and ensures that information and support are provided to all schools with regard to matters relating to health.
118. The Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture supports the provision of opportunities for students to take part in physical education and related activities.
E. Specific rights – women, children and persons with disabilities
Gender-based violence – recommendations 76.20, 77.7, 76.21, 76.22, 77.8
120. The government honours its duties under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979); the Convention on the Political Rights of Women (1953); Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (2000); and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women “Convention Of Belem Do Para”(1994).
129. The government launched an anti-violence campaign in 2014. Fifty-eight(58) schools, twenty(20) communities and 75% of survivors reporting allegations of domestic violence per year participated in the campaign that will continue in 2016.
Children, definition, general principles, protection – recommendations 76.3, 76.23, 77.12
130. The harmonization of laws affecting children will commence in 2016 to address the gaps within existing laws in lieu of the enactment of the new child legislations. The recommendation to increase the age of employment of young persons from14 years is currently being considered.
131. A juvenile according to the Child Justice Bill is defined as any child within the ages of 12-18 years old. The Bill proposes an assessment to determine placement into approved diversion programmes or detention programmes with a minimum sentencing period of thirty-eight (38) days or a maximum of two (2) years. The Bill is proposed for the Legal Agenda in 2016 to aid in the completion of the reform process.
Children, protection against exploitation – recommendations 78.25, 78.20
132. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines since ratifying the International labour Organisation (ILO) Convention in 2006 is yet to take the necessary steps to harmonize domestic legislation to give effect to its treaty obligations under the ILO Convention.
133. While domestic legislation is yet to be harmonized to reflect international legal obligations for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines under the ILO, the government remains committed to taking the necessary steps to address the contradiction between the minimum age for admission to employment, and the age of completion of compulsory education, and would follow-up on this matter with some degree of urgency.
134. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has passed legislation governing the Employment of Women, Young Person and Children Act, which specifies that:
Children under the age of 14 years shall not be employed or work in any public or private industrial undertaking, or in any branch thereof, other than an undertaking in which only members of the same family are employed.
135. The Civil Service Orders governing the public service of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines specifies that:
To be eligible for appointment to the public service a candidate must be over 17 years of age.
Juvenile justice – recommendations 76.25, 78.21, 78.22, 77.11
136. Section 136 of the Prison Act – provides for the separation of Juveniles from other offenders.
137. The Liberty Lodge Boys Training Centre is being refurbished with provisions made for a wing for female offenders.
Implementation of legislation regarding a juvenile justice division programme.
Prison Act Section 29 provides for the transfer of juveniles and committing them to approved schools.
140. Inclusive education efforts are ongoing with investments made in strengthening the capacity of schools to prioritise children with special needs. Training was provided for school personnel, children and mainstream teachers to identify and address the needs of children with special needs.
Persons with disabilities – recommendations 76.11, 76.10 and 78.17, 76.13
142. The government supports a school for persons with disabilities and the Ministry of National Mobilisation is responsible for assisting persons with disabilities.
143. There is no discrimination against a child based on the child’s or his or her parent’s or legal guardian’s disability. In practice however there is a difficulty in providing services such as education and health care to children with certain types of disability which render them unable to attend the available institutions geared towards the care of persons with disability.
144. Due to financial and human resource constraints, a study concerning how the education of disabled students can be implemented through mainstream educational settings was not conducted. However, it is envisaged that further research for this vulnerable population will form part of the comprehensive implementation plan over a maximum five year period for persons with disabilities.
Right to development – general measures of implementation – recommendations 76.1, 76.2
148. The political will of the government is to ensure its citizens rights and freedom guaranteed under the constitution are promoted and protected. A number of key policies and initiatives (already highlighted above) were undertaken in partnership with external and internal partners to meet these challenges, notably in the area of education, housing, health and food security. The adoption of the National Economic and Social Development Plan (2013–2025) guides the optimal improvement of the quality of life for all Vincentians outlining a strategy to achieve sustainable economic growth, job creation, and poverty reduction. These will be accomplished through five strategic goals namely: re-engineering economic growth; enabling increased human and social development; promoting good governance and increasing the effectiveness of public administration; improving physical infrastructure, preserving the environment and building resilience to climate change and building national pride, identity and culture.
Compilation of UN Information
B. Constitutional and legislative framework
7. The United Nations subregional team indicated that significant gaps remained in children protection laws owing to a significant backlog of legislation that still needed to be drafted or revised. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines complete the review of the draft legislation relating to the rights of children and submit it to the Cabinet for approval as soon as possible.
III. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
A. Equality and non-discrimination
15. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that there was no law on gender equality. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines adopt new legislation that fully incorporates the principle of equality of women and men, as well as a definition and prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex and gender in the public and private spheres. It noted with regret that the 2009 Constitution Bill, which included provisions for equal rights and the same legal status for women and men, as well as the prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex, had been rejected by a referendum held on 25 November 2009. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines review its legislation, including the Criminal Code, the Marriage Act, the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act and the Citizenship Act (1984), by adopting a clear time frame and targets in relation to the law reform process, and amend or repeal all discriminatory provisions.
16. The United Nations subregional team noted that the Constitution prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex, race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed, but no specific legislation addressed discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or social status. It also noted that discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons included eviction, refusal to offer housing and employment and bullying in schools.
B. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
23. The United Nations subregional team stated that corporal punishment was lawful in the home, school and correctional/alternative care settings. It was also available as a criminal sentence for children. As part of an initiative to reform child laws in the region, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States had circulated a number of draft laws for consideration by member States, including Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. As originally drafted by the Organisation, corporal punishment as a criminal sentence would be prohibited in the Juvenile Justice Bill. The United Nations subregional team recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines urgently pass and proclaim the Juvenile Justice Bill, which embraces the restorative justice and non-punitive approaches to dealing with young offenders.
24. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned about reports of sexual abuse of children by persons who paid the family to be silent and not to report the incidents, which led to sexual exploitation of children, placing them in a situation of forced prostitution.
25. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted with concern that only three cases of human trafficking had been investigated in 2014 and five in 2013, none of which had resulted in prosecution. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines strengthen measures to prevent and to respond effectively to incidents of transnational and internal trafficking for sexual abuse and exploitation, especially of girls under 18 years of age, including through awareness-raising initiatives, the prosecution and punishment of offenders and the establishment of specific support and rehabilitation programmes for victims.
26. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned about the lack of alternative employment opportunities for women and girls who wished to leave prostitution. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enhance support services for victims of trafficking and sexual exploitation, including alternative employment.
27. According to the United Nations subregional team, there was insufficient data to determine how many children or young people were engaged in child labour.48 The International Labour Organization (ILO) Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations also requested Saint Vincent and the Grenadines take the necessary measures to ensure that sufficient data on the situation of children involved in the worst forms of child labour are made available.49 The Committee also noted that the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act did not contain a general prohibition on the employment of children below 18 years of age in hazardous work apart from the prohibition on night work.
C. Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law
28. The United Nations subregional team reported that the judicial system suffered from long delays in preliminary inquiries for serious crimes, and that there was currently a backlog of cases in the Magistrate’s Court in Kingstown. Delays were typically attributed to staff shortages in the judiciary. In addition, there were reports of witnesses refusing to cooperate for fear of retaliation. In 2011, 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.
30. The United Nations subregional team indicated that women and girls’ access to justice was significantly hampered by a general lack of resources, a lack of understanding of the justice system and a lack of trust in the police and court system.
31. The United Nations subregional team noted that, as of April 2014, the Juvenile Justice Bill had been under discussion with a view to revising it before presentation to Parliament. Under the current Juveniles Act, a child was defined as a person under the age of 14 and the age of criminal responsibility was 8 years old. The Act also proscribed granting a juvenile bail when “the charge is one of homicide or other grave crime”.
32. In 2015, shortcomings of the juvenile justice system were evident in the case of a 12-year-old girl who had been accused of homicide. Arrangements for holding the girl were complicated by the fact that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines did not have juvenile detention facilities for girls.
D. Right to privacy, marriage and family life
34. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women was concerned that the Marriage Act set the minimum legal age for marriage at 15 years for girls and 16 years for boys. It urged Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years for girls and boys.
35. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted with concern the existence of disparities between the child maintenance awards made by the courts to the children of unmarried mothers and those of married mothers. It recommended strengthening efforts to secure child maintenance payments in adequate amounts, ensuring that there were no disparities between those accorded to the children of married and unmarried mothers.
F. Right to work and to just and favourable conditions of work
44. The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations recommended that the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines take the necessary measures to raise the minimum age for employment to work to 16 years, in order to link it with the age of completion of compulsory schooling.
H. Right to health
54. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted that abortion was illegal except in cases of rape, incest, risk to the life or physical or mental health of the pregnant woman or severe foetal impairment, as stipulated in section 149 of the Criminal Code. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines remove penalties imposed on women who undergo abortion and ensure that section of the Criminal Code is properly implemented to guarantee access to legal and safe abortion in cases of rape, incest, risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman or severe foetal impairment. It also recommended that the State ensure that women and girls have confidential access to adequate post-abortion care, including in cases of backstreet abortions.
55. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women noted with appreciation the awareness-raising activities carried out by the Family Planning Coordinator to address such issues as responsible sexual behaviour, adolescent pregnancy, family planning services, including contraceptives, and sexually transmitted diseases. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ensure free and adequate access to sexual and reproductive health services, in particular to modern contraceptive methods, for all women and girls, including those living on the outer islands, and strengthen age-appropriate school-based education on sexual and reproductive health and rights for adolescent girls and boys through the Health and Family Life Education Curriculum.
56. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women also recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines provides free and confidential family planning services at the community level, including in the Grenadines, and educate women and girls and men and boys on responsible sexual behaviour and the prevention of early and unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
I. Right to education
57. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women commended Saint Vincent and the Grenadines for achieving universal access to primary and secondary education. It noted with concern the high rate of teenage pregnancy, which resulted in high dropout rates. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines consider means of reducing unwanted teenage pregnancy by continuing to promote education in sexual and reproductive health and rights and responsible sexual behaviour for girls and boys, and strengthen efforts to retain girls in school and facilitate the reintegration of pregnant girls and young mothers into schools by providing support services.
58. UNESCO reported that the Education Act of 2005 had made education at primary and secondary education compulsory for children, including those with special needs, and ensured liberty of expression in school. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines be encouraged to ensure comprehensive human rights training for teachers with a view to preventing any excessive use of force and consider prohibiting corporal punishment of children in all settings.
K. Persons with disabilities
60. The Special Rapporteur on cultural rights noted that a main concern was that textbooks, which were developed at the Caribbean (regional) level, continued to have a European perspective, although significant achievements had been made since the 1970s in that respect. It was also of concern that textbooks did not sufficiently reflect the specific history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and contained very little information on the Garifuna and Callinago peoples.
61. The Special Rapporteur recommended that the country: strengthen support to heritage clubs in schools, and find and support ways to integrate local histories and literature into the school curriculum, including through the use of information and communication technologies;94 support the dissemination of alternative history textbooks and the organization of extracurricular activities on Vincentian history in schools; address the issue at the Caribbean (regional) level on how local histories can be better reflected and incorporated in textbooks as well as examinations; address the issue of access to relevant archives located in third countries, including by seeking support from these countries.
I. Information provided by stakeholders
C. Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law
1. Right to life, liberty and security of the person
1. According to ADF International, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must continue to focus on protecting the right to life of the unborn and on helping women get through pregnancy and childbirth safely, rather than helping women end their pregnancies. ADF International recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines continues to protect the right to life from conception to natural death.
2. ADF International reported that violence against women and girls remains a serious problem. There are cases of sexual exploitation of children (particularly girls), such as forced prostitution. ADF International recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines introduces measures to prevent and effectively respond to incidents of violence, sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking and; introduces effective investigation, prosecution and punishment of the offenders.
3. Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (GIEACPC) reported that in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, corporal punishment of children is lawful, despite recommendations by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights Committee to prohibit it and recommendations made during the 1st cycle UPR (which rejected by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).6 GIEACPC noted that during the first review however, the issue of corporal punishment of children was raised in advance questions, in the compilation of UN information and in the summary of stakeholders’ information.
4. GIEACPC noted that as of today, corporal punishment of children in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is lawful in all settings – the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools, penal institutions and as a sentence for crime. Achieving prohibition requires the enactment of legislation clearly prohibiting corporal punishment in all of these settings and explicitly repealing the right “to administer punishment” in the Juveniles Act 1952. It noted that the Juvenile Justice Bill currently under discussion provides an immediate opportunity to prohibit corporal punishment.
5. GIEACPC hoped the UPR Working Group will note with concern the legality of corporal punishment of children in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It hoped that States will raise the issue during the review in 2016 and make a specific recommendation that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines clearly prohibit all corporal punishment of children in all settings including the home and as a sentence for crime, and explicitly repeal the right “to administer reasonable punishment” in the Juveniles Act 1952.
6. Child Rights International Network (CRIN) urged States to recommend that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines enacts and enforces legislation explicitly prohibiting corporal punishment and life imprisonment, as a penalty for any offence committed while under the age of 18.
2. Administration of justice, including impunity and the rule of law
7. According to CRIN, life imprisonment and corporal punishment are lawful penalties for offences committed while under the age of 18. CRIN urged States to recommend to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines that it reviews the sentence of any person sentenced to life imprisonment for an offence committed while under the age of 18, to ensure that no one serves a life sentence for an offence committed while a child.
8. CRIN reported that the Juvenile Act and the Criminal Code set the minimum age of criminal responsibility at eight years. CRIN urged States to recommend to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
9. CRIN reported that the prohibition of the death penalty for persons under 16 at the time of the offence, in section 24 of the Criminal Code, was reportedly extended to persons under 18 years by Act 27 of 1993.
3. Freedom of religion or belief, expression, association and peaceful assembly, and right to participate in public and political life
10. ADF International noted that in the 1990s, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines introduced the Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Program on, inter alia, sexual education and sexual health in primary and secondary schools. ADF International indicated that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines must afford parents the right to opt their children out of the HFLE Program if it violates their religious beliefs.
Accepted and Rejected Recomendations
The recommendations listed below enjoy the support of St Vincent and the Grenadines
80.58 Strengthen the role and capacity to act of the Child Protection Unit with the support and assistance of the international community in order to allow it to fully fulfil its mission (Morocco);
80.61 Put an emphasis on the training of those responsible for the protection of the rights of women and children (Haiti);
80.70 Conduct nation-wide educational campaigns about gender roles and the value of women and girls (Slovenia);
80.94 Establish a Juvenile Rehabilitation Centre to ensure detention separate from adults and the safety of juvenile offenders whilst in detention and to equip them to be productive citizens on release into society (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland);
80.100 Continue and strengthen health education and family life programs, such as education on appropriate sexual and reproductive health for every age, and access to sexual and reproductive health, including contraceptive methods (Colombia);
80.101 Combat the high rate of teenage girls’ pregnancy, which put at risk their rights to health and education (Congo);
80.102 Adopt measures to empower girls and boys to make conscious decisions regarding their health and well-being through mainstreaming of sexual and reproductive health education (Slovenia);
80.118 Institute measures to prevent and effectively respond to all incidents of violence, sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of women and girls, as well as introduce measures to effectively investigate, prosecute and punish all perpetrators (Ghana);
80.119 Enact a comprehensive strategy in order that the rights of children are further protected and widened (Greece);
80.120 Increase efforts to keep children in schools and protect them from sexual exploitation or forced and unlawful employment (Malaysia);
80.121 Increase the minimum age of marriage which is 15 for girls and 16 for boys to an age which is in line with international standards (Algeria);
- 80.122 Raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 (Sierra Leone);
- 80.123 Increase the minimum age of employment to 16 years in line with the
observations of the ILO (Honduras);
80.124 Review, adopt and implement the pending draft national policy on persons with disabilities to ensure non-discrimination in education, employment and healthcare (Maldives);
80.126 Try to address the intractable problem of providing education and health services to certain categories of children with disabilities, with appropriate assistance from regional and international partners (Jamaica);
80.127 Ensure that research on how the education of children with disabilities can be implemented through mainstream educational settings, is included in the planned comprehensive implementation plan for persons with disabilities. Regional and international experiences and best practices could be incorporated into such a study (Jamaica);
The recommendations listed below are noted bySt Vincent and the Grenadines
80.17 Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on a communications procedure (Uruguay) (Portugal);
80.36 Reform the legislation on family life, especially the law on legal marriage age, which sets it at 15 years for girls and boys and which should be raised to 18 years, at a minimum (Congo);
80.82 Consider prohibiting corporal punishment of children in all settings (South Africa);
80.83 Prohibit all corporal punishment of children, including at home, at schools, and as a sentence in courts and work towards a general understanding that corporal punishment of children is not beneficial but rather detrimental to their development (Germany);
80.84 Introduce the legislative measures and policies necessary to ensure the protection and promotion of the rights of boys and girls, including explicit prohibition of corporal punishment both in public and private spheres, as previously recommended (Mexico);