Barbados

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Persistent violations
  • Child abuse and domestic violence[1]
  • Corporal punishment[2]
  • High rates of HIV and AIDS and insufficient response[3]
  • Teenage pregnancy[4]
  • Trafficking of children[5]

For more details, go here

Footnotes
  1. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Universal Periodic Review
  2. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Human Rights Committee, Universal Periodic Review
  3. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  4. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  5. UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, International Labour Organisation



Introduction

The most easterly of the Caribbean islands, Barbados has white sandy beaches and tranquil waters on it’s Caribbean facing side and turbulent seas on its Atlantic coast. Politically stable and prosperous, the Island has been independent since the 1960s. Children’s rights campaigners have been critical of the State’s underdeveloped and punitive juvenile justice system.

Geography


Barbados is the most easterly of the Caribbean islands with white sandy beaches and tranquil waters on its Caribbean facing side and more turbulent seas on its Atlantic coast. The capital city is Bridgetown.

Population and Language

Barbados has a gradually growing population of 274,000, a figure that is rising at a rate of around 0.2 per cent per year[1]. Of this population, around 80 per cent are of African descent, 4 per cent European and 16 per cent of mixed heritage[2].

English is the first language for the vast majority of the population, and is almost universally spoken.

History and Politics

The first known inhabitants of Barbados were the Arawak people who were driven off the islands by Carib's from Venezuela around 1200AD. The Carib population themselves left around 1500AD prior to European discovery of the island thirty years later. British colonists established their first settlement in 1627 before planting sugar plantations for which they brought a substantial enslaved population to the island. The sugar industry boomed until well into the 19th century, despite the abolition of slavery in 1834. The island became more politicised in the 20th century, with the formation of the first national political party in the 1930s and increasing self government after the second world war. Barbados gained full internal self-government in 1961 under the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), and achieved full independence in 1966 under DLP leader Errol Barrow.

In post-independence politics, the DLP and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) have dominated national politics. Owen Arthur, of the BLP, won three successive elections throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but was defeated in in 2008 to be replaced by David Thompson of the DLP in 2008. Thompson died in office in 2010, and was replaced by Fruendal Stuart, his deputy.

Economy

Barbados has a prosperous economy, based largely on tourism and financial services. Economic success has led to the highest ranking on the human development index of any Caribbean state[3] and social benefits such as free education to the postgraduate level. The state is also famous for the general absence of corruption, Transparency International rated the country as the 16th cleanest in the world in 2011 tied with Austria and the United Kingdom[4]. The island has, however, faced substantial economic difficulties in recent years in the face of falling tourist numbers as a result of the global financial crisis, and rising national debt. High regional airfares, high fuel costs and the prevalence of shorter cruise ship itineraries have all been harmful to tourist numbers, and the World Bank recorded government debt at 92.7 per cent of GDP in 2008[5], a figure that other sources have reported to have increased as high as 100 per cent[6]. Oil and natural gas may present a means of diversifying and developing the national economy, however, as the island awarded its first exploration contract in 2009 to determine the extent of its oil reserves to the south-east of the country[7].

Media and Civil Society.

Barbadian media is free of state control and exercises it freedom to criticise the government. All newspapers are privately owned, though there is a mixture of private and public radio stations. The Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, the islands only TV station, is state owned, but represents a wide range of political views[8].

Human Rights and Children's Rights

Barbados has been criticised with regards to its treatment of children within the criminal justice system, particular with regards to the low age of criminal responsibility (11 years), the legality of flogging as a judicial penalty, and the limited protections for children between 16 and 18 who are in conflict with the law[9]. The Committee on the Rights of the Child has also raised concerns about the prevalence of child abuse and the inadequacy of the law to address such abuse[10]. HIV and Aids are also substantial problems for the country, which has is home to around 2,100 people living with HIV (1.4 per cent of the population)[11].

  1. UNDESA, "Population Statistics 2011"
  2. Foreign and Commonwealth Office, "Barbados Country Profile"
  3. UNDP, "Human Development Index", 2011
  4. Transparency International, "Corruption Perceptions Index" 2011
  5. The World Bank, "Data: Central Government Debt, total (percentage of GDP)"
  6. The Economist, "Sun obscured by clouds: The untimely death of the prime minister" 27 October 201
  7. BBC Caribbean, "News in brief" 19 January 2009
  8. BBC, "Barbados Profile" 26 January 2012
  9. CRIN, "Barbados: Inhuman Sentencing of Children" 2 November 2010
  10. UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding Observations, 1999
  11. UNAIDS, "HIV and AIDS estimates 2009"

Sources:


Quick Facts

  • Population: 274,500 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Population under 18: 59,000 (UNICEF, 2011)
  • Number of internet users: 278,550 (71.8% of the population) (Internet World Stats, 2012)
  • Human Development Index ranking: 38 (UNDP, 2012)
  • Happy Planet ranking: N/A