Last edited: November 2005
Summary and Analysis
St. Kitts and Nevis ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. The Convention requires enacting legislation to be in force. Parts of the Convention have been enacted through several different legislations.
The Constitution of St. Kitts and Nevis provides fundamental rights and freedoms to children. The Domestic Violence Bill of St. Kitts and Nevis was presented and passed in 2001 but did not enter full operation until 2005. Protection of women and children is generally covered by that bill.
The country has a Child Protection Board and Child Protection Agencies run by the government, and there are also NGOs which support the process. In child protection cases, children are appointed a social worker by the court.
Domestic violence is very prevalent. It tends to be swept under the rug because the society tends to consider it a private family issue, and parents are generally embarrassed when children are abused and normally will not say anything. There may be pockets of outcry, but generally only from organizations and not individuals. The country is a very small island, and there is a high degree of fear and embarrassment.
Since the Domestic Violence Bill, awareness has been heightened and people are more likely to speak out. However, perpetrators are generally being let go. Charges may be brought against some, but of those, few come to the court because there is either some kind of bribery within the family, cover-ups, etc.
In 2001, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) begain working to consolidate all the laws related to children into one legislation that will apply to all of the Eastern Caribbean States. This process is a slow one, however, partially because each of the member states was at a different level of progression in its legislation and norms at the beginning of the process.
Related Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
Domestic Violence Act of St. Kitts and Nevis, 2000
PART I PRELIMINARY
. . . “prescribed person” means the spouse of the respondent, a parent or a child or a dependant of the spouse . . .
PART II DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
5. For purposes of this Act, conduct that constitutes domestic violence include
(a) violence that results in or is likely to result in
(i) physical harm,
(ii) sexual suffering, or
(iii) psychological suffering;
(b) threats of violence;
(d) arbitrary deprivation of liberty;
(f) conduct of an offensive or harassing nature;
(g) conduct which amounts to psychological abuse, intimidation or persecution.
PART III PROTECTION AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Injunction and Protection Orders
6. (1) An application for an injunction or a protection order against domestic violence may be made to a court where a person is subjected or is about to be further subjected to domestic violence.
PART IV MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
19. (1) No person shall be present during the hearing of any proceedings under this Act except
(a) officers of the court;
(b) parties to the proceedings;
(c) Counsel of each party to the proceedings;
(d) any other person permitted by the court to be present.
28. (1) Where the court is required to determine whether to grant bail in respect of an offence committed under this Act the court shall take into account, inter alia,
(a) the need to ensure that a prescribed person is protected from violence or harassment;
(b) the welfare of a child, where a defendant or the victim of the alleged offence has custody of the child; . . .
(d) the defendant's record with regard to the commission of violent acts and whether there is evidence on record of physical or emotional abuse of children; . . .
Local Contact Information
Change Centre (NGO: Domestic Violence-related)
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