Grenada Country Profile


Key Statistics

Population: 105,900 thousand (World Bank Data 2014)

Capital: St. George's

Languages: English

Major Ethnic Groups: Black 82%, Mixed Black/European 13%, European 5%

GDP per Capita (current US dollars): 8,143 (IMF World Economic Outlook, 2015)

GDP per Capita PPP (current international dollars): 12,091 (IMF World Economic Outlook, 2015)

Security Sector Stats

Active Armed Forces: --

Small Arms: there are no specific estimates for the number of firearms in Grenada (Gun Policy, 2015)

Military Expenditure: n/a

Executive Summary

Violence in Grenada has followed no discernible trend in recent years. Though the country serves as a transhipment point for the international illicit narcotics trade, and has a number of youth gangs, these factors do not appear to have any impact on the murder rate.

While Grenada may not experience violence on the same scale as other countries in the region, it suffers from inefficiency in the judiciary and issues of corruption in the police force. An insufficient number of public prosecutors and judges means that there is a notable case backlog, something which is helping raise the inmate population—a large number are pre-trial detainees—and exacerbate overcrowding problems in the already overburdened prison. Meanwhile the police have been accused of abusing detainees which has led to public mistrust toward the force.

Helping modernise the justice sector, train more public legal professionals, and pushing for an independent body to oversee the police and thus increase civilian oversight of the force, are all advised measures to help address Grenada’s institutional problems.

Security and Justice Context

Grenada’s homicide rate has fluctuated since 2000, peaking in 2008 at a rate of 18.3 murders per 100,000 inhabitants (See Figure 1.) when 19 murders recorded. The following years saw continued fluctuations in the number of murders recorded, and 2012 was set to continue this trend; after 10 homicides in 2011, 14 were registered between January and October 2012.


Fig. 1 Grenada Homicide Rate 2000-2011

The country serves as a transit point in the international drugs trade. According to the US State Department, this is largely due to its small uninhabited islands and cayes that lie off the mainland and provide drug traffickers with refuelling points. Its role ultimately, though, is relatively minor in the transnational drug trade; cocaine seizures did jump from 4.53 kilograms seized in 2007 to 109 kilograms in 2009, though are now on the decline with only 1.7 kilograms seized in the first half of 2012[1] .

Grenada has no registered presence of transnational organised criminal groups.

Police have estimated that there are some 22 street gangs active in Grenada with a little less than 300 gang members in total. The gangs are not organised, are primarily concerned with protecting territory, or “turf,” and are engaged in petty street crime and the domestic drug market. The majority of drug users in Grenada use marijuana which the country produces. A far smaller amount use cocaine and/or crack cocaine.

Though there are a number of gangs, they do not appear to contribute significantly to the number of murders in the country. According to research conducted by the National Drug Council, none of the homicides that occurred between 2008 and 2012 were related to drug trafficking. Many of the murders appear to have been isolated cases related to personal disputes.

Gun crime in Grenada is not a concern; from 2002-2010, firearms were used in around 6 percent of the total number of murders. The rate of firearm use in homicides in other Caribbean countries is as high as 85 percent[2] , while the global average is 42 percent.

The Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (ACCP)[3] has estimated that there are some 1.6 million illegal weapons circulating in the whole Caribbean, but it appears that Grenada does not play a significant role in the regional illicit arms trade.

Perceptions of Insecurity

There is no available data on perceptions of insecurity among Grenada’s citizens.

Security and Justice Institutions

Justice Institutions

As a result of its colonial history, Grenada’s judicial system is based in part on British common law practice. The judiciary is independent and the country operates an adversarial legal system.

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court[4] (ECSC) administers the country’s judicial system and assigns two High Court judges to reside in Grenada and hear cases from the country’s courts system.

The Supreme Court of Grenada sits in the capital St George’s and is divided into a High Court and Court of Appeal. There are six local Magistrates’ Courts that serve each of the six parishes and handle minor criminal and civil cases.

The Court of Appeal hears appeals from Magistrates’ Courts. Appeals against High Court rulings—including those that involve rulings on Magistrates’ Courts appeals—can be sent to the ECSC Court of Appeal[5] . Although Grenada is a signatory to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), inaugurated in 2005 as the judicial institution of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)[6] , final appellate jurisdiction rests with the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) in London, United Kingdom.

There are no military courts.

The attorney general is the government’s legal advisor and is housed under the Ministry of Legal Affairs. The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is the principal prosecutorial authority.

The Office of the Ombudsman is independent and hears public complaints against the government for alleged injustices. The country’s first ever Ombudsman was appointed in 2009 by the Governor General.

According to the US State Department, the judiciary generally enforces the right to a free and fair trial. Corruption does not appear to be a major concern within the justice sector; however, inefficiency is an issue. The US NGO Freedom House noted that the court system suffers from a backlog, with serious cases taking 6 months to one year to clear the court system. Much of this is down to a lack of resources. The state only had one prosecutor[7]  as of 2010 and a small number of judges meaning that the caseload cannot be quickly handled.

There is one prison in the country which is overseen by the Ministry of National Security[8] . According to the US State Department, prison conditions are poor and do not meet international standards. As of February 2012, there were 419 inmates in the facility which has an official capacity of around 200. Over 50 percent of inmates were pre-trial detainees and prisoners on remand and juveniles are housed with adult inmates due to the lack of a separate juvenile facility.

The Prison Visiting Committee monitors the facility and is appointed by the government. It is mandated to promote improved efficiency within the prison by advising the Commissioner of Prisons, and is allowed to investigate prisoner complaints. Its mandate runs for two years from February 2012, a time in which it is obligated to visit the prison at least once a month.

Security Institutions

The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) is responsible for enforcing criminal, maritime[9] and immigration laws, and has 800-900 agents. The RGPF is overseen by the Ministry of National Security in the Office of the Prime Minister and is supplemented by over 250 rural constables.

The country has no military, though is a part of the Regional Security System (RSS) which seeks to promote cooperation between its members[10] in the Eastern Caribbean in drug interdiction efforts and maritime policing, among other areas.

Grenada’s police force runs community policing initiatives throughout the country, placing an emphasis on building a better relationship with citizens in areas where the police have a presence, and working with communities on projects aimed at reducing crime. As part of the programme, police patrol cars in certain neighbourhoods have effectively been turned into police substations so that citizens can report crimes directly to them.

Perhaps the most pressing concern in the police force is the use of excessive force by some of its members. The death of a Grenadian man in December 2011 highlights this. The man, a Canadian resident, was allegedly beaten in police custody and died of his injuries. One eye witness claims that he was tied up and beaten by five officers. As of December 2012, the five officers accused were on trial for manslaughter, though the family wanted them charged with murder. The case continues to move at a slow pace.

The victim’s death sparked demonstrations against police abuse, something the public claim is an endemic problem. According to the US State Department, young detainees have complained of being mistreated by police while in custody.

Complaints against the police are handled internally and there is no civilian oversight body for the force. The investigation into the death of the Canadian resident was handled by the Criminal Investigation Department of the police working with the DPP.

At the time of writing there was no publicly available long-term strategic development plan that had stated goals for the security and justice sectors. Much of the developmental focus for the country has been on rebuilding infrastructure after the island was badly struck by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, an event which decimated the economy and damaged 90 percent of homes.

The country does have a National Anti-Drug Strategy for 2012-2017 which seeks to improve the institutional capacity of the country to provide care for drug users, educate school students on drug use, and improve the capacity of police and legal professionals to carry out anti-trafficking operations, among other targets.

State of Security and Justice Sector Reform

Justice Sector Reform and Initiatives

A new Code for Prosecutors was introduced in 2013 that officially standardizes how both public and police prosecutors must conduct themselves when pursuing an investigation.  It outlines when to, and when not to, charge someone. Prior to the introduction of the code there was no formal set of guidelines.

The new prosecutor’s code was developed with the help of the United States through the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI). As part of the CBSI, the United States has also been helping Grenada to create a new National Prosecution Service which would streamline prosecutions. At the time of writing it appeared that little progress had been on this issue, one which would likely move to bring police prosecutors under the supervision of the DPP as has happened with a similar initiative in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Grenada’s prison has placed an emphasis on expanding rehabilitation programmes for inmates and has an industry department which produces furniture, agricultural products, and blocks, among other items. These programmes, some of which have only recently been re-started after being affected by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, aim to provide prisoners with skills for when they complete their sentence and leave prison.

Security Sector Reform and Initiatives

Community policing programmes are perhaps the biggest initiative undertaken by the RGPF in recent years (see above for details). The police force announced at the end of 2012 that it intends to strengthen these programmes and remove corruption from the institution. According to police officials, this will be done by reviewing the recruitment criteria and educating officers better on what is required of them. The aim is to improve accountability and professionalise the force over the next five years.

Under the CBSI, the government of Grenada has received counter-narcotics equipment, and aid for workforce training programmes for at-risk youth, technical assistance for the police, and training for police officers on how to conduct anti-gang forensics and cybercrime investigations. Through the CBSI the US has also partnered with the T.A. Marryshaw Community College on a Caribbean Youth Empowerment Programme for at-risk youth.

In 2011, the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM IMPACS) adopted the Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons, a regional initiative aimed at reducing gun crime in the region and improving regional cooperation in the field of arms trafficking.

Parliamentary/Congressional Capacity for Oversight

Grenada’s parliament is bicameral, consisting of the lower House of Representatives with 15 elected members, and the upper Senate with 13 appointed members. The legislature is constitutionally independent from the executive and is responsible for the making and passing of laws.

Parliament generally fulfills its oversight role and holds the government accountable. However, there have been recent allegations of the executive circumventing parliament[11] , suggesting its capacity could be strengthened.

Security and Justice Opportunities

According to the US State Department, instances of corruption within Grenada’s government are not always acted upon, despite there being laws against official misconduct.  There is no data on perceptions of corruption within the country, though it is seen by outside observers as being a significant problem. Therefore, engaging with the government on security and justice reform initiatives should be approached with a degree of caution.

Justice Sector Opportunities

The implementation of a Code for Prosecutors and apparent move toward the creation of a National Prosecution Service, with the help of the US, is welcome as it could go some way toward improving prosecutorial efficiency. However, arguably the biggest problem is that of personnel numbers and modernisation of court facilities. Placing an emphasis on adding more public prosecutors and judges is advised as this would help alleviate the current case load of officials and clear the case backlog. This in turn could help bring down the inmate population in the country’s prison due to the significant amount who are pre-trial detainees.

The emphasis on rehabilitation programmes in the prison is a welcome progressive approach. However, prison conditions need improving as the existing facility is ill-equipped to deal with the current prison population.

Security Sector Opportunities

The biggest concern regarding the country’s security institutions is alleged abuse by police officers. Though the RGPF has stated its intention to purge the force of corrupt elements, there is a need for greater civilian oversight of the institution to ensure full accountability. The inclusion of the DPP in investigating instances, as currently happens, is one way of addressing this; however, the creation of an independent police complaints commission is arguably required so that public trust in the police can be rebuilt and citizens have sufficient recourse for making a complaint against police misconduct.

Civil Society Actors to Engage With

According to Freedom House, Grenada has an active civil society engaged in a broad range of domestic and international issues; however, its effectiveness is somewhat restricted by a lack of resources.

One of the most prominent NGOs in the country is the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), an umbrella NGO focused on promoting and improving women’s rights in the country.

At the time of writing there was little publicly available information on NGOs engaged in promoting justice and security reform in Grenada. Women’s rights are arguably one of the most pressing issues in the country due to the high incidence of gender-based and domestic violence. The government enacted two new laws in 2011 to strengthen the legal framework for combating domestic violence, increase penalties for offenders and increase the protection of victims.


American Caribbean Law Institute–Stetson University College of Law, “Grenada Case Study 2010,” No publication date available

Freedom House, “Freedom in the World 2012–Grenada,” June 2012

Government of Grenada, “National Anti-Drug Strategy Grenada: 2012-2017,” December 2011

Katz, C.M, “Understanding Gangs, Gang Members, and Gang Control in the Caribbean,” February 2012 (Presentation)

National Council on Drug Control (Grenada), “An Analysis of Homicides in Grenada, 2008 to 2012,” 2012

National Council on Drug Control (Grenada), “Analysis of Drug-Related Statistics: 1 January to 30 June 2011 and 1 January to 30 June 2012,” September 2012

Organisation of American States, “Report on Citizen Security in the Americas,” May 2012

Red de Seguridad y Defensa de América Latina, “Atlas Comparativo de la Defensa en América Latina y Caribe Edición 2012,” October 2012

United Nations Development Program, “Caribbean Human Development Report 2012: Human Development and the Shift to Better Citizen Security,” February 2012

U.S. Department of State, “2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report Volume 1: Drug and Chemical Control,” March 2012

U.S. Department of State, “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011,” May 2012


[1] In comparison, 541 kilos of marijuana were seized in the first half of 2012.

[2]  In St. Kitts and Nevis the rate was 85 percent in 2010. Guns are used in approximately 70 percent of murders in Trinidad and Tobago, and Jamaica.

[3] The ACCP has a membership of 24 Caribbean nations and is designed to facilitate cooperation between the region’s police forces and help with the development of officers’ technical skills and professionalism. 

[4] The ECSC is the superior court for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) members. This includes six independent states and three British Overseas Territories. The ECSC is headquartered in Saint Lucia.

[5] The Court of Appeal moves about the OECS when it is required.

[6]  CARICOM is an organisation comprised of 15 nations and aims to promote economic integration and cooperation between its member states.

[7] There are also police prosecutors.

[8] The Ministry of National Security, Public Administration, Information Communication Technology and National Mobilisation, is located in the Office of the Prime Minister.

[9] Maritime laws are enforced by the Coast Guard which is part of the RGPF.

[10] The 1996 treaty creating the RSS was signed by Saint Lucia, St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Antigua and Barbuda.

[11] The allegations relate to an alleged borrowing of funds by the government without the consultation of parliament.

Igarapé Institute

The Igarapé Institute is a southern think tank devoted to evidence-based policy and action on complex social challenges including global drug policy, citizen security and international cooperation. Its goal is to stimulate humane engagement on emerging security and development issues. Across all its programs, the Institute adopts a three-prong approach:

  1. Diagnose challenges through cutting-edge research;
  2. Trigger informed debate and action across public and private spheres; and
  3. Design tailor-made solutions that are people-centered.

The International Security Sector Advisory Team

The International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT) provides practical support to the international community in its efforts to improve security and justice, primarily in conflict-affected and fragile states. It does this by working with a group of member states and institutions to develop and promote good security and justice reform practices and principles, and by helping its members to build their capacity to support national and regional security and justice reform processes.