The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Grenada is a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 21 of the ICCPR governs the right of peaceful assembly, providing that:
The right of peaceful assembly shall be recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order (ordre public), the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Grenada is not a State Party to the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, which allows individuals to petition the Human Rights Committee if they believe the State has violated their human rights as protected under the Covenant.
Grenada is a State Party to the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights. Article 15 governs the right of assembly:
The right of peaceful assembly, without arms, is recognized. No restrictions may be placed on the exercise of this right other than those imposed in conformity with the law and necessary in a democratic society in the interest of national security, public safety or public order, or to protect public health or morals or the rights or freedom of others.
Grenada has not accepted the competence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to hear complaints by individuals under the jurisdiction of the State that their rights under the 1969 Convention have been violated.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Section 11(1) of the 1973 Constitution of Grenada guarantees the "right to assemble freely" but allows restrictions to be imposed that are "reasonably justifiable" in a democratic society and which are "reasonably required in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health" or "reasonably required for the purpose of protecting the rights or freedoms of other persons".
A public meeting or any other gathering of two or more individuals, whether indoors or in the open air, at which any obscene or immoral behaviour or practices are indulged in, or at which behaviour or practices are indulged in which tend to exercise a pernicious or demoralising effect upon persons attending such meeting, is prohibited.
According to Section 7(1) of the Act:
If a person desires to organise or hold in a public place any meeting, gathering, or assembly of persons, or any procession or march, ... he or she shall, at least twenty-four hours before the occurrence of the desired event, make application for a permit to the Chief of Police, or to some other police officer duly authorised to act on behalf of the Chief of Police, and the person to whom application is made may grant or refuse the application.
The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies
The Use of Force
International Legal Rules
Under international law, the duty on the State and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:
In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.
Section 23 of the 1966 Police Act (as amended) stipulates that the duty of the Royal Grenada Police Force is to take lawful measures for—
(a) preserving the public peace ...
(c) apprehending and causing to be apprehended persons who shall have committed, or shall be charged with or suspected of having committed or having abetted the commission of, or being about to commit, any crime or offence
(d) control of processions and assemblies in public places ...
(f) preserving order and decorum in public places and places of public resort, at public meetings and in assemblies for public amusements...
(n) protecting public property from loss or injury....
The Act does not regulate the use of force by police officers. Such regulation is contained in the 1958 Criminal Code (as amended), Section 55 of which allows "the amount and kind of force reasonably necessary for the purpose for which force is permitted to be used". Police officers are further allowed to use "necessary force according to the terms and conditions of [their] authority".
The Use of Firearms
International Legal Rules
According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
Section 357 of the Criminal Code allows a police officer to "do all things necessary for dispersing the persons" in a riotous assembly "and if any person makes resistance, may use all such force as is reasonably necessary for overcoming such resistance, and shall not be liable in any criminal or civil proceeding for having by the use of such force caused harm or death to any person".
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
The most recent Concluding Observations of the Human Rights Committee on Grenada, in 2009, did not address the right of peaceful assembly. Grenada's 2015 Universal Periodic Review under the Human Rights Council also did not address the right of peaceful assembly.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has not addressed the right of peaceful assembly in Grenada in recent years.