International Criminology World

World : North America : Grenada

Before the arrival of Europeans, Grenada was inhabited by Carib Indians who had driven the more peaceful Arawaks from the island. Columbus landed on Grenada in 1498 during his third voyage to the new world. He named the island "Concepcion." The origin of the name "Grenada" is obscure, but it is likely that Spanish sailors renamed the island for the city of Granada. By the beginning of the 18th century, the name "Grenada," or "la Grenade" in French, was in common use.

Partly because of the Caribs, Grenada remained uncolonized for more than 100 years after its discovery; early English efforts to settle the island were unsuccessful. In 1650, a French company founded by Cardinal Richelieu purchased Grenada from the English and established a small settlement. After several skirmishes with the Caribs, the French brought in reinforcements from Martinique and defeated the Caribs the last of whom leaped into the sea rather than surrender.

The island remained under French control until its capture by the British in 1762, during the Seven Years' War. Grenada was formally ceded to Great Britain in 1763 by the Treaty of Paris. Although the French regained control in 1779, the island was restored to Britain in 1783 by the Treaty of Versailles. Although Britain was hard pressed to overcome a pro-French revolt in 1795 Grenada remained British for the remainder of the colonial period.

During the 18th century, Grenada's economy underwent an important transition. Like much of the rest of the West Indies it was originally settled to cultivate sugar which was grown on estates using slave labor. But natural disasters paved the way for the introduction of other crops. In 1782, Sir Joseph Banks, the botanical adviser to King George III, introduced nutmeg to Grenada. The island's soil was ideal for growing the spice and because Grenada was a closer source of spices for Europe than the Dutch East Indies the island assumed a new importance to European traders.

The collapse of the sugar estates and the introduction of nutmeg and cocoa encouraged the development of smaller land holdings, and the island developed a land-owning yeoman farmer class. Slavery was outlawed in 1834. In 1833, Grenada became part of the British Windward Islands Administration. The governor of the Windward Islands administered the island for the rest of the colonial period. In 1958, the Windward Islands Administration was dissolved, and Grenada joined the Federation of the West Indies. After that federation collapsed in 1962, the British Government tried to form a small federation out of its remaining dependencies in the Eastern Caribbean.

Following the failure of this second effort, the British and the islands developed the concept of associated statehood. Under the Associated Statehood Act of 1967 Grenada was granted full autonomy over its internal affairs in March 1967. Full independence was granted on February 7, 1974.

After obtaining independence, Grenada adopted a modified Westminster parliamentary system based on the British model with a governor general appointed by and representing the British monarch (head of state) and a prime minister who is both leader of the majority party and the head of government. Sir Eric Gairy was Grenada's first prime minister.

On March 13, 1979, the new joint endeavor for welfare, education, and liberation (New Jewel) movement ousted Gairy in a nearly bloodless coup and established a people's revolutionary government (PRG), headed by Maurice Bishop who became prime minister. His Marxist-Leninist government established close ties with Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other communist bloc countries.

In October 1983, a power struggle within the government resulted in the arrest and subsequent murder of Bishop and several members of his cabinet by elements of the people's revolutionary army. Following a breakdown in civil order, a U.S.-Caribbean force landed on Grenada on October 25 in response to an appeal from the governor general and to a request for assistance from the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. U.S. citizens were evacuated, and order was restored.

An advisory council named by the governor general administered the country until general elections were held in December 1984. The New National Party (NNP) led by Herbert Blaize won 14 out of 15 seats in free and fair elections and formed a democratic government. Grenada's constitution had been suspended in 1979 by the PRG but it was restored after the 1984 elections.

The NNP continued in power until 1989 but with a reduced majority. Five NNP parliamentary members, including two cabinet ministers, left the party in 1986-87 and formed the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which became the official opposition.

In August 1989, Prime Minister Blaize broke with the NNP to form another new party, The National Party (TNP), from the ranks of the NNP. This split in the NNP resulted in the formation of a minority government until constitutionally scheduled elections in March 1990. Prime Minister Blaize died in December 1989 and was succeeded as prime minister by Ben Jones until after the elections.

The NDC emerged from the 1990 elections as the strongest party, winning seven of the 15 available seats. Nicholas Brathwaite added two TNP members and one member of the Grenada United Labor Party (GULP) to create a 10-seat majority coalition. The governor general appointed him to be prime minister.

In parliamentary elections on June 20, 1995, the NNP won eight seats and formed a government headed by Dr. Keith Mitchell. The NNP maintained and affirmed its hold on power when it took all 15 parliamentary seats in the January 1999 elections.


The economy of Grenada is based upon agricultural production (nutmeg, mace, cocoa, and bananas) and tourism. Agriculture accounts for over half of merchandise exports, and a large portion of the population is employed directly or indirectly in agriculture. Recently the performance of the agricultural sector has not been good. Grenada's banana exports declined markedly in volume and quality in 1996, and it is a question to what extent the country will remain a banana exporter. Tourism remains the key earner of foreign exchange.

Grenada is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU). The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) issues a common currency for all members of the ECCU. The ECCB also manages monetary policy, and regulates and supervises commercial banking activities in its member countries.

Grenada also is a member of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). Most goods can be imported into Grenada under open general license but some goods require specific licenses. Goods that are produced in the Eastern Caribbean receive additional protection; in May 1991, the CARICOM common external tariff (CET) was implemented. The CET aims to facilitate economic growth through intra-regional trade by offering duty-free trade among CARICOM members and duties on goods imported from outside CARICOM.


The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There was no change in the status of respect for religious freedom during the period covered by this report, and government policy continued to contribute to the generally free practice of religion.

The generally amicable relationship among religions in society contributed to religious freedom.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights.

Grenada and 2 smaller islands, Carriacou and Petit Martinique, has a total area of 133 square miles, and a population of approximately 98,000. The population is of African, East Indian, and European descent. Approximately 90,000 persons live on the island of Grenada, 7,000 live on Carriacou and 900 on Petit Martinique. Roman Catholics account for 64 percent of the population; Anglicans 22 percent; Methodists 3 percent, and Seventh-day Adventists 3 percent. Additional denominations include Presbyterians, Church of God, Baptists, and Pentecostals. All the major religious denominations are represented in most towns and villages except Petit Martinique, where the population is 98 percent Roman Catholic and 2 percent Seventh-day Adventist. There are no synagogues or mosques in Grenada.

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice. The Government at all levels strives to protect this right in full, and does not tolerate its abuse, either by governmental or private actors.

The Government is secular and does not interfere with an individual's right to worship. Most government officials are Christians. Christian holy days, such as Good Friday, Corpus Christi, Easter, Whit Monday, and Christmas are national holidays. The Government does not take any particular steps to promote interfaith understanding.

The Constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, place of origin, political opinion, color, creed, or sex, and the Government generally adheres to these provisions.

Government policy and practice contributed to the generally free practice of religion.

There were no reports of religious prisoners or detainees.

There were no reports of forced religious conversion, including of minor U.S. citizens who had been abducted or illegally removed from the United States, or of the refusal to allow such citizens to be returned to the United States.

Relations between the various religious communities are generally amicable. There are no known activities to promote greater mutual understanding and tolerance among adherents of different religions.

The U.S. Government discusses religious freedom issues with the Government in the context of its overall dialog and policy of promoting human rights. U.S. Embassy representatives discussed issues or events involving religious freedom with government officials when soliciting support for international organization resolutions regarding broader human rights concerns.


The crime rate in Grenada is high compared to industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Grenada. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Grenada will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 1997 was 3.16 per 100,000 population for Grenada, 1.02 for Japan, and 6.8 for USA. For rape, the rate in 1997 was 60.00 for Grenada, compared with 1.31 for Japan and 35.92 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 1997 was 82.11 for Grenada, 2.23 for Japan, and 186.05 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 1997 was 1304.21 for Grenada, 15.29 for Japan, and 382.04 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 1997 was 956.84 for Grenada, 175.70 for Japan, and 919.57 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 2406.32 for Grenada, compared with 1339.97 for Japan and 4922.73 for USA. (Note that the total index offenses combined do not include larceny and theft of motor vehicles.


Between 1996 and 1997, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 9.47 to 3.16 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 67%. The rate for rape decreased from 70.53 to 60.00, a decrease of 15%. The rate of robbery increased from 50.53 to 82.11, an increase of 62%. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 1412.63 to 1304.21 a decrease of 8%. The rate for burglary increased from 954.74 to 956.84, an increase of .2%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 2497.90 to 2406.32, a decrease of 4%.


The 830-person national police force had a hierarchical structure and was generally effective in responding to complaints; however, lack of resources was a problem. While individual cases of corrupt or abusive police have been reported, there has not been a generalized problem of police corruption. The police investigated allegations of police brutality internally. The Police Commissioner could discipline officers (up to the rank of sergeant) in valid cases of brutality with penalties that include dismissal. Only the Public Service Commission can discipline officers with the rank of inspector or above.


The law provides the police with the right to detain persons on suspicion without a warrant, but they must bring formal charges within 48 hours. The police generally adhered to this time limit in practice. If the police do not charge a detainee within 48 hours, they must release the person.

The law provides for a judicial determination of the legality of detention within 15 days after arrest on a criminal charge. The police must formally arraign or release a detained person within 60 days, and the authorities generally followed these procedures. There was a functioning system of bail, although persons charged with capital offenses were not eligible. Persons charged with treason may be accorded bail only upon the recommendation of the Governor General.

The Constitution does not address exile, but the Government did not use it.


Women's rights monitors believed that violence against women remained a serious problem. The police stated that most cases of abuse were not reported, and others were settled out of court. The law stipulates a sentence of 15 years' imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Sentences for assault against a spouse varied according to the severity of the incident. There was a shelter for battered and abused women and their children in the northern part of the island, with medical and psychological counseling personnel on its staff. The home accommodates 20 persons.

Prostitution is illegal.

Sexual harassment in the workplace was a problem.

There was no evidence of official discrimination in health care, employment, or education. Women frequently earned less than men performing the same work; such wage differences were less marked for the more highly paid jobs.


The Social Welfare Division within the Ministry of Housing, Social Services, and Cooperatives provided probationary and rehabilitative services to youths, day care services and social work programs to families, assistance to families wishing to adopt or provide foster care to children, and financial assistance to the six children's homes run by private organizations.

Education is compulsory until the age of 16. Government social service agencies reported a further increase in the number of child abuse cases, including sexual abuse. Abused children were placed either in a government-run home or in private foster homes. The law provides for harsh penalties against those convicted of child abuse and disallows the victim's alleged "consent" as a defense in cases of incest.


There were no laws that specifically address trafficking in persons. There were no reports that persons were trafficked to, from, or within the country during the year.


South American cocaine traffickers pass through or stop in Grenada's coastal waters and its often unpoliced islands and beaches to transship cocaine en route to U.S. and other markets, including by drug couriers on commercial aircraft and via yachts. The traffickers often transfer cocaine to Grenadian vessels to execute deliveries ashore, as the Grenadian police have had some success in disrupting over-the-beach deliveries. Grenada's police drug squad dismantled a Trinidadian cocaine trafficking operation that used Grenada as a transshipment point in 2003. Relatively small amounts of marijuana are grown in Grenada. Marijuana is smuggled from St. Vincent for domestic use.

Grenada is a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Drug Convention. The Government of Grenada (GOG) also is a party to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, Inter-American Firearms Convention and the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters. The GOG has not signed the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime. The GOG and the USG signed a maritime law enforcement cooperation agreement in 1995 and an overflight and order-to-land amendment to the maritime agreement in 1996. The GOG and the USG have also brought into force an extradition treaty and a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT). Grenada's police and its financial intelligence unit have been extremely responsive to MLAT requests, particularly in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in the U.S.

The GOG's Drug Control Secretariat of the National Council on Drug Control is very active and effective. Under a 2002 statutory mandate, and with the participation of many government agencies, including the police service, the National Council on Drug Control, headed by the Attorney General, guides and integrates national interdiction and demand reduction policy. Grenada, with OAS assistance, is working on a new national master plan for drug control to cover the period 2004-2009. The Council effectively keeps drug prevention themes before the public. Drug use prevention education is incorporated into all levels of the educational curriculum. In 2002, the GOG issued a National Schools' Policy on Drugs.

The D.A.R.E. program continues to function well. The Department of State and the Florida Association of Volunteer Agencies/Caribbean Action (FAVA/CA) have contributed to the development of self-sustaining, peer-to-peer drug prevention and "Safe Summer" programs for youth in Grenada since 2001.

Grenada's sole drug and alcohol treatment center continues to receive about 50 patients per year. Most patients are admitted for alcohol abuse; all treatment costs are borne by the government. The psychiatric hospital also provides drug detoxification.

Law enforcement agencies in Grenada cooperate well on drug control. They meet regularly to plan joint operations, thereby maximizing available assets. The government opened its National Coordination Center for law enforcement in 2001. Through August 2003, Grenadian authorities reported seizing approximately 40 kilograms of cocaine and 155 kilograms of marijuana. During that period, they arrested 456 persons (21 non-nationals) on drug-related charges and eradicated 3,434 marijuana plants. Grenadian law enforcement authorities seized nearly ECD 300,000 ($115,000) in connection with drug-related cases. The police drug squad has collaborated closely with DEA officials in the targeting and investigation of a local cocaine trafficking organization, which has associations with South American and other Caribbean traffickers.


Internet research assisted by Josh Berke

Criminology Links
Incidence of Crime
Trafficking in Persons
Human Rights
Legal system
Drug Trafficking
Crime prevention

Other Links
Government Website
Travel Tips
International criminal justice agencies
News and Media
Correspondent email addresses
Give Feedback
Distance learning courses
Comparative criminology-related sites

A Comparative Criminology Tour of the World
Dr. Robert Winslow
San Diego State University