Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is an island country in the Carribean with a population of around 110,000 people. Following confirmation of COVID-19 cases in March 2020, the country implemented international travel restrictions including requiring arriving passengers from high-risk countries to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival and quarantine at a government-approved facility. In January 2021, the country’s prime minister rejected calls for imposing curfew restrictions, a state of emergency, or any lockdown measures in response to the pandemic. As of 12 April 2021, the country had recorded 1,792 cases of COVID-19 and 10 related deaths.
On 9 April 2021, the La Soufrière volcano erupted, forcing more than 16,000 people to evacuate their homes.
The GDP has been unable to establish the extent to which detention facilities are used in Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines as part of immigration enforcement procedures or to obtain details on COVID-19 related measures taken to safeguard people in immigration or criminal custody, or those in international protection situations.
According to UNHCR, in 2019 and in 2020, there were no refugees or asylum seekers in the country, but there were 38 displaced Venezuelan nationals. The country has ratified several relevant human rights treaties, including the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, at the time of this report, the country had yet to submit its first state report to many treaty bodies, including the Committee on Migrant Workers.
In its concluding observations in 2018, the Committee on Migrant Workers said it was concerned over “the lack of information regarding due process guarantees for migrant workers (…) in criminal and administrative proceedings, including detention and expulsion. It is also concerned that the Immigration (Restriction) Act, which was amended in 2017, criminalises irregular entry into the State party.” The committee recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines “(a) Ensure that in administrative and judicial proceedings, including detention and expulsion proceedings, migrant workers and members of their families, particularly those in an irregular situation, are guaranteed due process on an equal basis with nationals of the State party before the courts and tribunals; (b) Decriminalise irregular entry and ensure that the minimum guarantees enshrined in the Convention are assured with regard to administrative and judicial procedures against migrant workers and members of their families, in line with Articles 16 and 17 of the Convention.”
The country received numerous relevant recommendations during its review for the second cycle of the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in 2016, including: “harmonise its national legislation with international human rights standards (Morocco) (para. 80.29)” and “take immediate steps to bring conditions at all detention facilities, including Her Majesty’s Prison and Fort Charlotte Prison, into line with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Canada) (para. 80.87).” Additionally, UNHCR recommended that the country “(b) Take measures to ensure the early identification of persons in need of international protection and facilitate their access to asylum procedures, including persons in detention, through further training and sensitisation of immigration officers; (c) seek alternatives to detention of asylum-seekers.”
As of 29 May 2020, there had been no reported COVID-19 cases at Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ prisons. On 20 May 2020, the Carribean Community (CARICOM) donated basic sanitation supplies to the country’s prison system to help minimise the risk of infection and transmission of COVID-19 in prisons. These products included infrared thermometers, cleaning products and hand sanitisers.
- Worldometers, “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: CORONAVIRUS CASES,” 12 April 2021, https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/saint-vincent-and-the-grenadines/
- GARDA, “Saint Vincent/Grenadines: Authorities to Keep Coronavirus-Related International Entry Restrictions in Place Through December /update 9,” 16 December 2020, https://www.garda.com/fr/crisis24/alertes-de-securite/416686/saint-vincentgrenadines-authorities-to-keep-coronavirus-related-international-entry-restrictions-in-place-through-december-update-9
- UNHCR, “Refugee Data Finder,” accessed on 12 April 2021, https://www.unhcr.org/refugee-statistics/download/?url=ZQ8XxG
- Today Caricom, “St Vincent PM Declares Holidays; Rejects Lockdown Measures Again,” 25 January 2021, https://today.caricom.org/2021/01/20/st-vincent-pm-declares-holidays-rejects-lockdown-measures-again/
- UK Government, “Foreign travel advice: St Vincent and the Grenadines” accessed on 12 April 2021, https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/st-vincent-and-the-grenadines/coronavirus
- UNICEF, “UNICEF Starts Providing Humanitarian Assistance to About 5,000 Children Affected by Volcano Eruption in St Vincent,” 11 April, https://reliefweb.int/report/saint-vincent-and-grenadines/unicef-starts-providing-humanitarian-assistance-about-5000
- BBC News, “St Vincent Volcano: Eruptions Likely in Coming Days, Experts Warn,” 12 April 2021, https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-56713564
- Government of Saint-Vincent and the Grenadines, “Immigration (Restriction) Act, Act No. 16 of 2017,” 4 August 2017, https://svgfiu.com/images/pdf/legislation/Immigration-Restriction-Amendment-Act-2017.pdf
- Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, “Concluding Observations on Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the absence of a report,” 17 May 2018, CMW/C/VCT/CO/1, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/TreatyBodyExternal/Countries.aspx?CountryCode=VCT&Lang=EN
- UNHCR; “Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Compilation Report – Universal Periodic Review: 2nd Cycle, 25th Session,” https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/VCindex.aspx
- Human Rights Council, “Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” A/HRC/33/5, 8 July 2016, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/VCindex.aspx
- Searchlight, “CARICOM IMPACS Donates Sanitation Supplies to Prisons,” 29 May 2020, https://searchlight.vc/searchlight/press-release/2020/05/29/caricom-impacs-donates-sanitation-supplies-to-prisons/?fbclid=IwAR2aAvLv5jDhxVGqULM8xUGcNTAW5AtEa2mcEQMBq-HjHP1iIRmyPqYM0DE
- Sanitation Supplies Donated by CARICOM IMPACS to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prison Service, (Searchlight, “CARICOM IMPACS Donates Sanitation Supplies to Prisons,” 29 May 2020, https://searchlight.vc/searchlight/press-release/2020/05/29/caricom-impacs-donates-sanitation-supplies-to-prisons/?fbclid=IwAR2aAvLv5jDhxVGqULM8xUGcNTAW5AtEa2mcEQMBq-HjHP1iIRmyPqYM0DE)