Comparative law and justice/Dominica

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Ahunt 4174 17:30, 16 September 2010 (UTC)

Talipariti tiliaceum (Dominica).jpg


Basic Information[edit]

In Dominica a lot of people express themselves with colors, hence this colorful
House in Dominica, Many people in Dominica express themselves through colors, and this is proven to be so with this home.[2]

Dominica, also known as the Commonwealth of Dominica, sits midway along the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, just a few miles from Martinique to the south and Guadeloupe to the north. The island's official name is the Commonwealth of Dominica because it enables the island to be distinguished from its Caribbean sister, the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean indians named the island Waitukubuli, which means "tall is her body" in the Caribbean language. The island is populated with around 70,000 people, with a portion of the population living in or around the capital city, Roseau. Tropical forest coats two thirds of the island, which nourishes 1,200 plant species. Rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls abound, fed by the islands high annual rainfall.[3] The island was discovered by Columbus on Sunday, November 3, 1493. Dominica in Latin means "Sunday" which refers to the day it was discovered. Before Columbus discovered Dominica, Arawak Indians lived there, until the militant Indians (Caribs) forced them to move. The Caribs still live in Dominica and are the last natives of the Caribbean Islands. [4] Dominica has a very nice climate, even during the cold months from December to March. Summer temperatures reach an average high of 90 degrees, and winter temperatures range from 84 degrees to 86 degrees. The dry season in Dominica is from February to May, and the rainy season if from June to October, which is when hurricanes are most likely to occur. Average coastal rainfall in Dominica ranges from 60 inches to 145 inches, but in the mountains average rainfall can range up to 250 inches.[5] Dominica's national motto is Apres Bondie C'est La Ter, which means "After God, it is the Land." This meaning focuses on the country's French-creole heritage, their strong religious beliefs, and their dependence on their soil for the economy.

The Dominica Flag, This flag has much meaning to the country, since every detail of the flag represents something.[6]

Their national flag as a Sisserou parrot on it, which can only be found in Dominica. The colors and designs on the flag each have their own meaning such as: the ten green stars which represent the parish of the country, and the green background on the flag represents the rainforests. The three-colored cross symbolizes the Trinity of God; yellow represent the agricultural part of Dominica such as bananas and citrus, white represents the clarity of its rivers and waterfalls, and black represents the soil and the African heritage.[7]The religion that takes up over seventy percent of the population is Roman Catholic. None of the Protestant religions take up more than five percent of the population. Carib and West African beliefs are in spirits and witchcraft, even though it is looked down upon by the church.[8]

Brief History[edit]

Calibishe Beach in Dominica,[9]

Columbus discovered The Commonwealth of Dominica (Dominica) on a sunday in November of 1493. During this time the island was populated with the Caribs from South America who were driving out the Arawaks. In 1627 the English took control of Domnica, but by 1632 the island had became a French colony. it remained a French colony until 1759, when the English gained control of it. Dominica had been in control until the French then went back under control of England in 1783. The French made two attempts to invade Dominica, once in 1795 and once in 1805; but gave up and let it be under British control. Dominica became part of the Federation of the Leeward Islands Colony from 1871 to 1939, then became a unit of the Windward Islands group from 1940 to 1960. Dominica joined the West Indies Federation at its foundation in 1958 and remained a member until 1962. Edward LeBlanc became chief minister in 1961, and under his leadership, in 1967 Dominica became one of the West Indies Associated States, with full internal self-government. [10]On 3 November 1978, Dominica achieved independence as a republic within the Commonwealth, and took the name of Commonwealth of Dominica On November 3, 1978. The Commonwealth of Dominica was granted independence by the United Kingdom. Independence did not help many economic problems, which led to an interim government. This government was replaced in the 1980 elections led by the Dominica Freedom Party under Prime Minister Eugenia Charles, the Carribean's first female Prime Minister. [11]

Economic Development, Health, and Education[edit]

Economic Development

Banana Plant in Dominica,Dominica relies on agriculture, and banana is a major crop that their economy is based on.[12]

The economy is dependent on agriculture, which makes the country extremely reliable on climate conditions. Agriculture accounts for 20% of gross domestic product and employs 40% of labor force. In the early 2000's, unemployment was high, and output was in decline, partly due to weak export in bananas, and to weak growth of tourism. [13] The economy is largely based on agricultural exports including bananas, citrus and tropical fruits, coffee, oil, and copra. Tourism also plays a large factor in improving the economy. [14] Since rates of poverty are increasing in Dominica, it is reflecting on the decline of the banana production. In Dominica, twenty-nine percent of households and forty percent of the general population live in poverty. Also, eleven percent of households and fifteen percent of the general population live in indigent poverty. "More than thirty-seven percent of households in Dominica do not have access to piped water, and twenty-five percent of households have no access to toilet facilities." The rate of unemployment is increasing greatly, especially for poor households at forty percent, compared to non-poor households at sixty percent.[15] Dominica has rich volcanic soil which is great for growing fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are typically sold by street vendors at the market, but most people grow them on their own. Land crabs, crayfish, agouti and fish are caught where they can be found, and raised livestock include goats, pigs, and cows. Imported frozen goods such as chicken and turkey have become recently popular, along with tinned milk and sausage, and packed snacks. Flour sugar, salt and rice are purchased in town or can be found at village shops. There are many American-like markets in the capital, Roseau, but their goods are very expensive. [16]


Farmer's Market in Roseau, the capital of Dominica[17]

Medical care is limited in Dominica. Fortunately, sea rescue service is now available at the North End of the island. Doctors and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for all health services, so for many people on the island it is close to impossible to afford to pay for services. [18]In 2002, Dominica reported a rise in the number of cases of people affected with tuberculosis. Usually, an increased number of cases of tuberculosis gives reason to believe there are increased number of cases of HIV and AIDS infections. Another health problem in Dominica that has been reported is unprotected sex, teenage pregnancy and other gender issues, which has also increased the number of HIV and AIDS infections. [19] The healthcare system includes a main hospital in the capital Roseau, with smaller hospitals in Portsmouth, Grand Bay, and Marigot. Traditional medical knowledge includes the use of herbs, plants and tree barks to cure illnesses, induce labor and for other things. Prescription medication and natural remedies are used, but are discourage by healthcare professionals. Life expectancy is reasonably high for a poor country with an average expectancy for seventy-five years old for men and eighty-one for women.[20]


Picture of a wall painting in Dominica This painting is to educate and remind people of Dominica of the massacre of 1674 where british troops killed about 100 Carib Indians.[21]

Churches have played a huge role in Dominica through the establishment of institutions for formal and informal education. Since the mid 1970's, the preschool program has benefited from training and financial support provided by the government and international agencies. Children attended the primary school system between the ages of five and fifteen. By the age fifteen, they were usually in third form (same as 8th grade in the U.S.) and prepared to enter secondary school. Four of the secondary schools would accept children at the age of twelve based on their grade on a Common Entrance Exam give by the Ministry of Education. Secondary school continued up to fifth form (same as 10th grade in the U.S.), and most students ended their formal education at this level. In the late 1980's there were no laws stating children must attend school, so most children worked full or part-time instead. [22]Post Secondary education is limited to the Teacher's Training College, the Clifton Dupiguy Community College, and and the University of the West Indies for more education. Adult education is given in Roseau, Portsmouth, and sometimes in villages. In 1991 a census was taken and it was shown that only 2 percent of the population of Dominica receives a university education. [23]


Prime Minister of Dominica, Rossevelt Skerrit, .[24]

Legal system: based on English common law

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch: chief of state: President Eluid WILLIAMS (Interim since 2013) head of government: Prime Minister Edison C. JAMES (since 12 June 1995) cabinet : Cabinet appointed by the president on the advice of the prime minister elections: president elected by the House of Assembly for a five-year term; election last held 4 October 1993 (next to be held NA October 1998); prime minister appointed by the president election results : Crispin Anselm SORHAINDO elected president; percent of legislative vote - NA Legislative branch: unicameral House of Assembly (30 seats, 9 appointed senators, 21 elected by popular vote representatives; members serve five-year terms) elections: last held 12 June 1995; byelections held 13 August 1996 (next to be held by October 2000) election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - UWP 12, DLP 5, DFP 4 Judicial branch: Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (located in Santa Lucia), one of the six judges must reside in Dominica and preside over the Court of Summary Jurisdiction

Political parties and leaders: Dominica Freedom Party or DFP [Charles SAVERIN]; Dominica Labor Party or DLP [Rosie DOUGLAS]; United Workers Party or UWP [Edison JAMES]



Dominica has a westminster-style parliamentary government, with two major political parties: the Dominica Labour Party and the Dominica United Workers Party. A president and a prime minister make up the executive branch, and the president is elected for a five year term by the parliament. The prime minister and cabinet are responsible to the parliament and can be removed on a non-confidence vote. The House of Assembly is made up of twenty-one regional representatives and nine senators. The regional representatives decide whether senators are elected or appointed. Elections for representatives and senators must take place no later than five years after the first meeting of parliament. Dominica's legal system is based on English common law, that consists of three magistrate's courts, with appeals made to the Eastern Carribean Court of Appeal. [26] There are 111 polling districts in Dominica. A person is qualified to be registered as an elector if he: is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica, or is a Commonwealth citizen who has resided in Dominica for a period of twelve months, is eighteen years or older, and has resided in that polling district for a period of at least three months immediately following the date of registration. A person can not be registered as an elector for more than one polling district. A person can be disqualified as an elector or not taken into consideration as an elector if he: is a person declared to have an unsound mind, is undergoing any sentence of imprisonment in Dominica, is under s sentence of death put upon him by a court, and if they are under any written law that disqualifies them as an elector. A person remains registered unless: they have died, there has been as objection to their registration, they have not been in Dominica for a period over five years, or they have been disqualified. [27]

Judicial Review[edit]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]


Ages for Legal Purposes:

  • The legal age for majority is 18 years old
  • The legal age for consent for sexual activity is 16 years old
  • The legal age of consent for marriage is 18 years old

Rape: Article 49 of the "Offenses Against the Person" Act, Laws of Dominica: "Any person who is convicted of the crime of rape is liable to imprisonment for ten years."

The crime rate in Dominica has increased greatly, and anyone who is found guilty for the most recent murders will most likely be sentenced by a judge to be hung to death.[28]

"Magistrates may apprentice persons under the age of sixteen years convicted of larceny or vagrancy. Every person, being under the age of sixteen years, who is convicted before any Magistrate of stealing, or of destroying or damaging with intent to steal, any tree, plant, root, fruit or other vegetable production growing in any garden, orchard, provision ground or cane piece, whether enclosed or not, or of the larceny of any other article of produce, or of any livestock, the value of which does not exceed twenty five dollars, or who may be proved to the satisfaction of a Magistrate to be leading an idle and vagrant life, may, with the consent of the parent, reputed parent, or guardian of such person, but not otherwise, be apprenticed by the Magistrate to any householder, or to any proprietor, or manager of any estate or plantation, for any period not exceeding five years; and every such apprenticeship shall be in lieu of any punishment which the Magistrate might have inflicted upon such offender. "[29]

Legal Personnel[edit]

The legal system in the Commonwealth of Dominica is based on the English Common Law. The hierarchy of courts in the Dominica go as follows: Magistrate Court, High Court, Court of Appeal, and finally the highest Court of Appeal the Privy Council. The Eastern Carribean Supreme Court and the Privy Council are binding authority, while the English Courts are persuasive authority. [30] The judicial system in Dominica is composed of a high court judge, five magistrates, and ten magistrate courts. Appeals can be made to the Eastern Carribean Supreme Court, and to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom. [31] Dominica has a written constitution, and is the supreme law of the land. All laws must conform to the constitution that protects rights such as: the right to life, to personal liberty, protection from inhuman treatment, and freedom of expression. [32]

Law Enforcement[edit]

The Dominica Police Force was established in 1840, and in 1856 Magistrate Edward Lockhard was head of the Force with only twelve men. In 1907, the Federal Police Act was made and Dominica became a single force function in the Windward Islands. From 1960 Dominica's Police Force was administered by Chief of Police James Monigard, a British officer. By 1978 the Force was at 282 men, and presently the Force has increased to 412 men, which proves how crime has increased in Dominica. [33] Dominica and The United States work together in a battle against illegal drugs in Dominica. Dominica cooperates with U.S. agencies to help stop trafficking and selling of illegal drugs such as marijuana. In 1995, the Dominica government signed a maritime law enforcement agreement with the United States to improve counternarcotics coordination, and in 1996 signed mutual legal assistance. [34]The Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force is governed by the Police Act Chapter 14:01 of the Revised Laws of Dominica. The head of the police force(Commissioner) is Matthias Lestrade, and his partner is Deputy Commissioner of Police Hobbes Jno. Baptiste. The ranks in Dominica go as follows:

Gazetted Officers:

  • Commissioner of Police
  • Deputy Commissioner of Police
  • Superintendent of Police
  • Assistant Superintendent of Police
  • Subordinate Officers:
  • Inspectors
  • Station Sergeants
  • Sergeants
  • Corporals
  • Constables[35]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

  • Acquitted 8
  • Assaults 70
  • Burglaries 1,297
  • Car thefts 72
  • Convicted 495
  • Frauds 32
  • Jails 1
  • Judges and Magistrates 6
  • Murders 2
  • Police 442
  • Prisoners 298 prisoners
  • Prisoners > Female 2.1%
  • Prisoners > Per capita 420 per 100,000 people
  • Prisoners > Share of prison capacity filled 143.3%
  • Rapes 24
  • Robberies 57
  • Total crimes 7,857


For a Carribean country, Dominica has a low to medium crime rate. An comparision was taken in 1999 by INTERPOL recording data such as murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault and motor vechile theft. "Dominica 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 1999 was 7.89 per 100,000 population for Dominica, 1.00 for Japan, and 4.55 for USA. For rape, the rate in 1999 was 19.72 for Dominica, compared with 1.47 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 1999 was 80.20 for Dominica, 3.34 for Japan, and 147.36 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 1999 was 682.39 for Dominica, 15.97 for Japan, and 329.63 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 1999 was 1735.56 for Dominica, 206.01 for Japan, and 755.29 for USA. The rate of larceny for 1999 was 17.12 for Dominica, 1267.95 for Japan, and 2502.66 for USA (data for Dominica were from 1998--no data reported in 1999). The rate for motor vehicle theft in 1999 was 77.57 for Dominica, compared with 34.01 for Japan and 412.70 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 2603.33 for Dominica, compared with 1529.75 for Japan and 4184.24 for USA. (Note: data were not reported to INTERPOL by the USA for 1999, but were derived from data reported to the United Nations for 1999)" [37]


Family Law[edit]

A Church in Dominica
Saint Joseph Parish Church,

Only monogamous marriages are permitted by law. Marriage is based on individual choice, but is limited by class and religion. Men are expected to take care of their children financially, regardless of the child's relationship with either parent. A man or woman can be head of the household, and a man does not need to live in the household. "The predominant inheritance practice is "family land," in which a parcel of land is owned jointly by descendants of the original owner, either male or female." [38] Marriage licenses are issued when : parties wish to marry at the High Court, parties wish to marry at outside designated for that purpose such as churches, do not wish their Bann to be aired at church. To obtain a marriage license the following is required: completed application form 'G' that must be signed by both parties and witnessed by a Magistrate, a completed Declaration Form must be signed by each party before a Commissioner of Oaths, a birth certificate for each person, a non-marriage certificate that must be presented to ensure that neither person has been married and if they have been they need a Decree of Divorce, or a death certificate of the former spouse, and a license fee of EC $300.00 must be paid on submission to the Ministry of Social Services, Community Development and Gender Affairs.[39] To obtain a non-marriage certificate, the applicant must bring a birth certificate, and a baptismal or dedication certificate with a notification from the Priest or Pastor saying the applicant is free to marry. For a person that is born before 1964 they need postage stamps of EC $8.00 and to get someone to take an oath saying they have known the applicant for many years and they are not married. For a person that is born after 1964 all they need is postage stamps of EC $3.00[40]To bring an adopted child to the United States from Dominica, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government agencies that are responsible for making the decision are the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Dominica has two requirements for possible adoptive parents: adoptive parents should not be under the age of twenty-five and adopting parents should be employed or have some way of supporting a child. [41] The Welfare Division is the adoption agency in Dominica. The process for adopting a child from Dominica goes as follows:

  • 1. Chose an adoption service provider (adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. State in which they operate)
  • 2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt (To bring a child home from the Dominica you must be found eligible to adopt by filing out Form 1-600A)
  • 3. Be matched with a child (The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Dominica's standards)
  • 4. Adopt the child in Dominica (Three factors play a role in this step: role of the adoption authority, documents required, and adoption fees)
  • 5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for adoption (The U.S. Government and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services determine if you're eligible)
  • 6. Take Child Home ( You will need a birth certificate, Dominica passport and U.S. Immigrant Visa) [42]

In Dominica there is no levied inheritance tax, but there are against woman receiving any kind of inheritance even if their husband or relative left a will. Also a person is allowed to leave their property to sometime during his/her lifetime.[43]

Social Inequality[edit]

Human Rights[edit]

Every person in Dominica is entitled to fundamental rights and freedom. This means they are entitled to rights no matter their race, place of origins, political opinions, color or sex, but they have to respect the rights and freedoms of others for public interest. They have to respect each of the following: life, liberty, security of the person,protection of the law, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, and protection for the property of his home. A person has the following protection rights in Dominica: personal liberty, slavery and forced labour, inhuman treatment, discrimination, deprivation of property, arbitary search or entry, freedom of conscience, freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, and protection from a person detained under emergency laws. [44]Madam Chair is a commitment to address gender discrimination and to achieve all the objectives in the development of a National Policy and Action Plan for Gender Equality and Equality, in the Commonwealth of Dominica. The National Gender Policy reaffirms the government's commitment to gender equality and social justice. The goal of the policy is to create domestic peace, lower levels of violence, and to improve the quality of life.[45]

Dominica is participating in the OECS Family Law and Domestic Violence Legislative Reform Project, which seeks to bring family law into conformity with CEDAW and CRC. The Labour Contract Act: which embodies the principle of equality between men and women and prohibits differences in rates of pay for same work based on the sex of the employee.[46]

The Social Security Act: which provides for 12 weeks maternity leave. Also, male public sector workers are now entitled to paternity leave pursuant to an agreement between the main trade union and the government signed in December 2008.[47]

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