|SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Joined United Nations: 23 September 1983
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 21 July 2012
50,726 (July 2011 est.)
Elizabeth II of United Kingdom
Queen since 6 February 1952
The monarch is hereditary and holds that position for life or until
abdication. The Governor General is selected by the Queen.
Next scheduled election: None
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Dr. Denzil Douglas
Prime Minister since 6 July 1995
Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or
leader of a majority coalition is usually appointed prime minister
by the governor general; Last election held: 25 January 2010
Next scheduled election: 2015
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Predominantly African descendant; some British, Portuguese, and Lebanese
Anglican, other Protestant, Roman Catholic
Parliamentary democracy; 14 parishes. Legal system is based English common law
Executive: Monarch represented by Governor General; Prime Minister is typical the leader of the majority party or
coalition appointed by the governor general
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (14 seats, 3 appointed and 11 popularly elected from single-member
constituencies; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 25 January 2010 (next to be held by 2015)
Judicial: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (based on Saint Lucia; one judge of the Supreme Court resides in Saint
Kitts and Nevis)
The first settlers to arrive to the islands were a pre-agricultural, pre-ceramic people, who migrated down the archipelago
from Florida labelled "Archaic people." Around 100 B.C., the ceramic-using and agriculturalist Saladoid people came to
the islands, migrating up the archipelago from the banks of the Orinoco River in Venezuela. They were replaced in 800
A.D. By the Igneri people, members of the Arawak tribe. Around 1300 A.D., the Kalinago, or Carib people arrived on
the islands dispersing the Igneri, and forced them northwards to the Greater Antilles. They named Saint Kitts Liamuiga
meaning "fertile island", and Nevis Oualie meaning "land of beautiful waters". The first Europeans to arrive at the islands
were the Spanish under Christopher Columbus. He named Saint Kitts Sant Jago (Saint James). However,
misinterpretations of maps by subsequent Spanish explorers led Saint Kitts to be named San Cristobal (Saint
Christopher). Nevis was named "Nuestra Señora de las Nieves", or "Our Lady of the Snows", because of its large
volcanic peak, which due to heavy cloud covering at its top made Columbus mistakenly believe that it was capped with
snow. The first non-Spanish settlement attempt in the Caribbean occurred on Saint Kitts, when French Jesuit refugees
from the fishing town of Dieppe established a small town on a harbour on the island's north coast, also called "Dieppe," in
1538. In 1607 Captain John Smith stopped at Nevis for five days before founding the colony of Virginia. In 1624
Captain Thomas Warner, established the colony of Saint Christopher, the first British colony in the Caribbean. After a
Carib massacre, where 2000 men were executed at what is now Bloody Point, the island was partitioned between the
British and French, with the French gaining the ends, Capisterre in the North and Basseterre in the south, and the British
gaining the centre. In 1671, British Saint Kitts was annexed with Nevis, Antigua and Montserrat to form the Leeward
Caribee Island Government, headquartered in Antigua. The island still had full autonomy however. In 1689, during the
War of the Grand Alliance, France re-occupied the entire island, and decimated the British farms. English retaliation by
General Codrington defeated the French forces and deported them to Martinique. The history of Nevis was less
tumultous. The island was colonised by Anthony Hilton and 80 settlers from Saint Kitts in 1628. The island quickly grew
very profitable from tobacco trading. The French made one more major attack on British troops in 1705 during the War
of the Spanish Succession, as the over 8,000 French troops on the island easily defeated the 1,000 British posts. The
French held St. Kitts for 8 years, until the Treaty of Utrecht was signed. The treaty ceded the entire island of St. Kitts to
the British. By 1776, Saint Kitts became the new richest British colony in the Caribbean, per capita as a result of its sugar
industry. It retained this status until the late 19th century, despite a miriad of attacks by the French throughout the 18th
century, including the battle of St. Kitts in 1782. The consolidation of British rule was recognized finally under the Treaty
of Versailles in 1783.In 1833, the Leeward Islands were reunited as a single administrative entity, and was renamed the
Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands in 1871. In 1883, St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla were all linked under one
"presidency," based in St. Kitts.In 1983, the federation was granted independence from Britain, with a constitution that
granted Nevis a large degree of autonomy as well as the guaranteed right of secession if the need would come along.In
2005, St. Kitts saw the closure of its sugar industry, after 365 years in the monoculture. This was stated as due to the
industry's huge losses, as well as market threats by the E.U., who plan to cut sugar prices by large amounts in the near
Source: Wikipedia History of Saint Kitts and Nevis
The economy of Saint Kitts and Nevis depends on tourism; since the 1970s tourism has replaced sugar as the
traditional mainstay of the economy. Following the 2005 harvest, the government closed the sugar industry, after
several decades of losses. To compensate for lost jobs, the government has embarked on a program to diversify the
agricultural sector and to stimulate other sectors of the economy, such as export-oriented manufacturing and offshore
banking. Roughly 200,000 tourists visited the islands in 2009, but reduced tourism arrivals and foreign investment led to
an economic contraction in 2009 and 2010. Like other tourist destinations in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis is
vulnerable to damage from natural disasters and shifts in tourism demand. A mild recovery began in 2011. The current
government is constrained by one of the world's highest public debt burdens -equivalent to roughly 200% of GDP in
2011 - largely attributable to public enterprise losses.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Saint Kitts and Nevis)
St. Kitts and Nevis has enjoyed a long history of free and fair elections, although the outcome of elections in 1993 was
strongly protested by the opposition and the Eastern Caribbean Regional Security System (RSS) was briefly deployed
to restore order. The elections in 1995 were contested by the two major parties, the ruling People's Action Movement
(PAM) and the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party. Labour won seven of the 11 seats, with Dr. Denzil Douglas
becoming prime minister. In the March 2000 elections, Denzil Douglas and the Labour Party were returned to power,
winning eight of the 11 seats in the House. The Nevis-based Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) won two seats
and the Nevis Reformation Party (NRP) won one seat. The PAM party was unable to obtain a seat.
Under the constitution, Nevis has considerable autonomy and has an island assembly, a premier, and a deputy governor
general. Under certain specified conditions, it may secede from the federation. In accordance with its rights under the
Constitution, in 1996 the Nevis Island Administration under the Concerned Citizens' Movement (CCM) of Premier
Vance Amory initiated steps towards secession from the Federation, the most recent being a referendum in 1998 that
failed to secure the required two-thirds majority for secession. The most recent elections in Nevis took place on July
10, 2006. Amory's CCM was defeated by the NRP of Joseph Parry, winning only two out of the five elective seats.
Parry was sworn in as the third Premier of Nevis a day later.
Like its neighbours in the English-speaking Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis has an excellent human rights record. Its
judicial system is modeled on British practice and procedure and its jurisprudence on English common law. The Royal
St. Kitts and Nevis Police Force has about 370 members.
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Joins other Caribbean states to counter Venezuela's claim that Aves Island sustains human habitation, a criterion under
UNCLOS, which permits Venezuela to extend its EEZ/continental shelf over a large portion of the Caribbean Sea
Transshipment point for South American drugs destined for the US and Europe; some money-laundering activity
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Saint Kitts and Nevis
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25, 2012
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a multiparty, parliamentary democracy and federation. In January 2010 national elections, Prime Minister
Denzil Douglas’s Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) won six seats in the 11-seat legislature. Independent observers
concluded that the election had no major irregularities and was generally free and fair but called for electoral reform. The
constitution provides the smaller island of Nevis considerable self-government under a premier. In July voters in Nevis reelected
Joseph Parry of the Nevis Reformation Party as premier. Security forces reported to civilian authorities.
The most serious human rights problems were poor prison conditions and discrimination and violence against women.
Other human rights problems included the mental, physical, and sexual abuse of children and discrimination against the homosexual
The government took steps to prosecute and convict officials who committed abuses, but some cases remained unresolved. There
was not a widespread perception of impunity for security force members.
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SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS ACKNOWLEDGES ABSENCE OF OFFICIAL POLICY ON WOMEN'S PARTICIPATION IN
Committee on Elimination of Discrimination against Women
13 June 2002
563rd Meeting (AM)
Committee Concludes Consideration Of Country's Report on Implementation of Anti-Discrimination Convention
Women's political participation, traditional attitudes and efforts to overcome violence against women in Saint Kitts and Nevis were
the focus of attention at the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women this morning, as it continued its
consideration of that country's initial, second, third and fourth reports.
The 23-member Committee –- charged with monitoring implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women -– heard the delegation's responses to questions posed by the experts last week. (For initial
discussion and background information, see press release WOM/1340 of 5 June.)
Country representatives described the country's gender equality machinery and legal measures to improve the situation of women.
On women's political representation, they said that although women were actively engaged in political parties, they were still
reluctant to become electoral candidates themselves. Training was needed in the area of governance, democracy and constitutional
matters. It was hardly likely that quotas would be formulated in the country to increase women's political participation, however.
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FREEDOM IN THE WORLD 2011 REPORT
Political Rights Score: 1
Civil Liberties Score: 1
Despite multiple legal challenges from the opposition, parliamentary elections took place in January 2010. The Saint Kitts and Nevis
Labour Party retained power, and Prime Minister Denzil Douglas was reappointed as prime minister for his fourth consecutive
term. Prior to the elections, major reforms had been made to the country’s election laws, including the issuance of voter
identification cards. The introduction of a value added tax (VAT) in November and a bill authorizing the government to intercept
communications sparked new confrontations with the opposition at year’s end.
Saint Kitts and Nevis gained independence from Britain in 1983 but remains a member of the Commonwealth. Denzil Douglas of
the ruling Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) has been prime minister since 1995. In the 2002 elections, the SKNLP won
all eight Saint Kitts seats in the National Assembly, shutting out the opposition People’s Action Movement (PAM).
In early elections held in October 2004, the PAM captured one of the Saint Kitts seats while the SKNLP took seven. The
Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), a pro-independence party that headed Nevis’s local government, retained two of Nevis’s
three parliamentary seats. The Nevis Reformation Party (NRP), which has also historically favored secession from Saint Kitts,
captured one seat.
Parliamentary elections took place in January 2010 despite multiple legal challenges from the opposition PAM, including allegations
of voter padding by the SKNLP, the registration of voters outside their legal districts, and a push by the SKNLP to redraw district
lines shortly before the election. These were the first elections to take place under a new electoral law that had created a voter
identification system—including the issuance of voter identification cards—under which all existing voters were required to
reregister. However, implementation of the new law proved slow and faced operational and political obstacles.International
monitors found the elections to be generally free and fair, but noted that several important issues, including campaign finance,
media access, and civil society participation, had not been addressed in the reformed electoral law and thus required improvements.
The PAM gained an additional Saint Kitts seat for a total of two, while the SKNLP won six seats. The CCM and NRP retained two
and one Nevis seats, respectively. Douglas was reappointed to his fourth consecutive term as prime minister.
In June, the Douglas government pursued a variety of initiatives to shore up public finances and boost the economy. Measures
included the introduction of a new value added tax (VAT), the streamlining of tax exemptions, and a public wage and hiring freeze.
The first initiative, the VAT, was implemented in November against private sector wishes.
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Amnesty International- St Kitts and Nevis Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review
Tenth session of the UPR Working Group of the UN Human Rights Council
12 July 2010
C. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
The death penalty.
In December 2008 there was a resumption of hangings after 10 years of a de-facto moratorium on executions in the country.
Charles Elroy Laplace, who had been on death row for four years, was executed on 19 December 2008. He had been sentenced to
death for the murder of his wife. On 29 October 2008 the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court had dismissed his appeal for being
filed out of time. Charles Laplace did not then appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in the UK, the final court of
appeal for St Kitts and Nevis. The authorities are not obliged to wait for an appeal to the Privy Council to be completed before
proceeding with an execution; it appears, however, that Charles Laplace may not have been provided with the necessary legal
assistance by the state to file an appeal. Withholding such legal assistance would be a violation of the obligations placed on St Kitts
and Nevis by international law and UN standards on the death penalty.
It is not clear whether his right to apply for amnesty, pardon or commutation of sentence was respected. An Advisory Committee
on the Prerogative of Mercy apparently met before the execution to consider his case, but it is not known whether Charles Laplace
was told when his mercy plea would be considered and whether he was provided with legal assistance to help compile his
application for clemency. The Privy Council judgment in the 2001 case of Neville Lewis & Others v Attorney General of Jamaica
states that condemned prisoners have specific rights regarding clemency procedures, including the right to view documents
considered in their mercy plea, and to have the opportunity to make representations before the Mercy Committee.
Amnesty International has reason to believe that Charles Laplace may not have been granted his legal right to explore all avenues of
appeal available to him before his execution.
When announcing the execution in the National Assembly, the Prime Minister Denzil Douglas defined capital punishment as a
“deterrent among our people in taking another man’s life”. General public support for the resumption of executions has increased in
response to a recent upsurge in violent crime. Furthermore, at a press conference in March 2009, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts
and Nevis was reported to have reaffirmed the government’s strong support for the death penalty.
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Letter Urging Jamaican Government to Protect Rights Defenders and Address Violence and Abuse Based on Sexual
Orientation and HIV
November 29, 2004
Jamaican human rights defenders who criticized the government for abusive treatment of gay men and people living with
HIV/AIDS have been threatened with sedition charges; and government officials have denied that any such abuses take place.
Human Rights Watch urges Jamaican officials to act immediately to protect activists' democratic freedoms, and to investigate
allegations of abuse based on sexual orientation and HIV status.
Our recent report on how discrimination based on sexual orientation is impeding the fight against HIV/AIDS in Jamaica has
provoked both threats and blanket denials from sectors of the government and police. We are writing to urge the Jamaican
government to adopt a more constructive tenor in its response as it confronts the converging health and human rights crises.
As Human Rights Watch has documented in “Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic,”
discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation — coupled with discrimination and abuse against those living with HIV —
present a growing and serious challenge to Jamaica. Together, they endanger both basic civil and political rights and vital public
health efforts to reach those most at risk from the epidemic. In the report, Human Rights Watch presented detailed accounts of
police harassment of gay men and HIV/AIDS outreach workers; of violence in communities and families carried out in a spirit of
impunity; and of official indifference to human rights violations.
Representatives of your government, responding to Human Rights Watch’s documentation, have repeatedly cited Jamaica’s
“sovereignty” as a reason to oppose the repeal of sodomy laws (laws initially imposed by a colonial authority, not a sovereign
Jamaica) and to dismiss the report’s other recommendations.
Sovereignty is not at issue here. Legally binding obligations are. Jamaica has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. The covenant affirms the equality of all people before the law and condemns all forms of discrimination. The United
Nations Human Rights Committee has held both sexual orientation and HIV status to be protected against discrimination by the
treaty’s provisions. It has also held that sodomy laws such as Jamaica’s violate the treaty’s protections for privacy and equality.
During the past two weeks in which your government assailed Human Rights Watch’s findings, the health minister of Guyana has
outlined proposed legal reforms which would include the decriminalization of homosexual conduct as part of its overall effort to
combat HIV/AIDS. The government of the Bahamas has announced plans to amend its Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination
based on sexual orientation. A meeting of eighteen Caribbean health and labor ministers joined by health professionals in St. Kitts
and Nevis placed homophobia as a central element on the agenda of issues in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
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ST. KITTS AND NEVIS NATIONAL STATEMENT
UNITED NATIONS CONFERENCE ON SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT – RIO+20
RIO DE JANIERO, BRAZIL
20-22 JUNE, 2012
DELIVERED BY THE RT. HONOURABLE DR. DENZIL L. DOUGLAS- PRIME MINISTER OF ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
In terms of size, St. Kitts & Nevis would be a mere fragment of even the smallest cities of the world. Indeed, we are the tiniest
nation in the entire western hemisphere. Yet we are stable, well-run, and a people who have long adhered to the highest standards
of democratic governance, national development, and the rule of law. You can understand the sense of urgency that we feel, then,
due to the fact that our island nation is so disproportionately affected by precisely those economic, social and environmental threats
to our development that have brought us here today. It is therefore both out of concern for the community of nations at large, and
also most pressingly for the well-being of my own nation, and other vulnerable nations of the Caribbean and other regions, that I
urge we rise to the challenge and make a significant changes in our modus operandi without delay – if we are to have any chance
of reversing the troubling effects that economic, social and environmental threats have had, are having, and will continue to have on
small countries and economies like mine.
Mr. President, over the years, we have seen our sustainable development suffer due to global political inertia. Today we are in
genuine need of a new approach. We are in genuine need of relief from the status quo. For countries like St. Kitts and Nevis, re-
energizing the political will to develop and implement an action plan is not simply predictable semantics. It must address our unique
vulnerabilities to national disasters, international instruments for highly indebted middle-income countries. It must address high
levels of unemployment and pockets of poverty that can perpetuate crime and violence in our region. This plan of action must
speak to our security…..our stability…..indeed, our very survival. And so we urge that appropriate action be taken to ensure the
implementation of those commitments that have already been made by developed nations – taking into account, of course, the
social, economic, and environment imperatives, carried out in conformity with the principle of common but differentiated
Mr. President, the challenge of environmental governance is a truly global one, requiring the contribution of all. In this regard, the
Government of St. Kitts & Nevis wishes to bring to your attention the exclusion of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and to strongly
urge that they be afforded the opportunity to participate in global mechanisms, negotiations, and other activities aimed at procuring
increased viable options for sustainable development. Sustainable development is important to all. Environmental threats are not
governed by political boundaries. We should, therefore, make a concerted effort to ensure that our approach is more inclusive.
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February 3, 2012
Ombudsman Tasked to Assist the Public with Grievances Against Public Officials
By Teshell Samuel
Persons with grievances against public officials and institutions can turn to his office for resolution, says Ombudsman Walford
The term Ombudsman is fairly new to St. Kitts-Nevis having only established an Office of the Ombudsman within the Federation in
2009. He or she is appointed by the Governor General and governed by the Ombudsman Act of September 2006. Approval is
sought from both the governing party and the opposition in identifying the Ombudsman to ensure that the work of the office is
done without bias.
Despite its novelty, the work of the office is significant says Gumbs, who serves as Ombudsman to both St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The purpose of the office of the Ombudsman is for the protection and enforcement of the rights of citizens of the Federation,”
Gumbs explained. “It gives assistance to persons who believe that they have suffered some injustice at the hands of public officials
as a result of mal-administration within the administration.”
The Office of the Ombudsman acts as the Labor Department to the public sector, he quipped.
Assistance is provided free of charge to workers within the public sector and to citizens with complaints specific to Government
services and authorities, including government departments, public authorities, government boards and any corporation or body
established by ministers of government. If personnel with seniority are accused of abusing their power, being negligent, initiating
actions that are contrary to law, being oppressive or discriminatory, a case can be brought to the Ombudsman to seek advice or for
“For example if you are an employee within the public service and you feel that you are being passed over for a promotion or has
had an increment withheld for some reason, and you take it to your superior for reconsideration and was denied but you still feel
strongly that there may be some bias involved, then that is an issue that you can bring to the office of the Ombudsman,” he
Issues brought to the Ombudsman for investigation can differ in the time taken for resolution. Gumbs explained that in some issues
outside advice or consultation may be sought whether from lawyers or other entities in order to determine the best way to resolve a
matter. This can add to the length of time needed to close a specific case, he noted, adding that all complaints are investigated
within a timely manner.
The scope of the Ombudsman does not include matters regarding issues with the court nor does it deal with issues regarding
privately owned businesses.
According to Gumbs, since his appointment he has looked at over 70 cases yet persons still know very little about the work done
and the assistance available to them, a fact that he hopes will change with more public awareness.
“I would advise the public to come to the office and find out more about what we do and we how we can assist them in addressing
any problem that they might have regarding the functioning of the public sector,” he said.
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UN Human Rights group told St. Kitts and Nevis will retain the death penalty
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 7TH 2011
The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis has told the Tenth Session of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, a new
mechanism of the Human Right Council that it will retain the death penalty for the offences of murder.
The Federation’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, His Excellency Delano Bart, Q.C., acknowledged that although
the issue is controversial it will continue to be so.
“However, having considered the matter, the Government has decided to retain it as one of the sentences available to the Court that
it can use within its discretion. We accept, from the outset that there may be some evidence that it is not necessarily a deterrent but
within the context of our present society and the increasing crime rate, the Government would have great difficulty in justifying to
its citizenry its decision to deprive the Court of this optional punishment.” Mr. Bart said in presenting the national report at the
Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
He said that the jurisprudence surrounding the death penalty has been highly developed and refined by the Courts to the extent that
the Courts themselves will not pass such a sentence except in the most heinous of crimes which have been further refined to being
“the worst of the worst.”
He said that although the death penalty remains as a punitive measure on the books, the evidence is clear that it is not frequently
“In the last thirty years there have only been three instances when the death penalty has been carried out. During that period of
time, others have been sentenced to death but those sentences have either been commuted by the Court or by the Mercy Committee
– a feature of the Constitution which intervenes when justice ends and mercy begins.
“In cases where it has been implemented, the legal procedure as set out in the Constitution has been duly followed. Where an
accused is found guilty of a crime punishable by death, the penalty of death is no longer mandatory. There is a compulsory hearing
dedicated solely to the question of sentence. This therefore means that the judge has before him an array of options in respect of
sentence. The law requires that a social inquiry report along with a psychiatric report and any other report that the defence deems
necessary be submitted to the Court for such a hearing,” Mr. Bart submitted.
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Cuthbert Montraville Sebastian
Governor General since 1 January 1996
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Sam Terrance Condor
Deputy Prime Minister since 6 July 1995