On October 25, 1983 the United States of America invaded the Caribbean island of Grenada. This act was condemned by HM Government and later, on November 2, 1983, by the United Nations General Assembly, who, with a vote of 108 to 9, described it as “a flagrant violation of international law.”
The pretext of the United States invading the country was to ‘save US citizens,’ after an internal government crisis had led to the tragic death of the charismatic Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop.
During the operations vast numbers of Grenadian citizens were detained. Later, with the support of their allies, US forces orchestrated a show trial on the grounds of the Richmond Hill prison, at the end of which the defendants were sentenced to death. This group, primarily soldiers and former government ministers who became known as the Grenada 17, included the Deputy Prime Minister, Bernard Coard.
The judicial process was found by Amnesty International to be fatally flawed. In their report “The Grenada 17: The Last of the Cold War Prisoners?” they noted that the trial did not meet international norms, nor was it in line with basic international human rights standards. Tellingly, the written judgement has never been produced by the hired judges.
After a successful international campaign, the death penalty was commuted. However, the Grenada 17 were incarcerated for up to 26 years where they survived horrendous conditions which included torture and solitary confinement.
The United States had waged a systematic psychological campaign to smear the Grenada Revolution of 1979-1983, which nonetheless became a beacon of change in the Caribbean, holding aloft the standard of social justice. After the tragic end to the Revo, many of the detainees were targets of continued campaigns to destroy their reputations, in particular Bernard Coard. An Appeal to HM Privy Council which addressed Constitutional issues eventually led the way to the freedom of the 17.
This course, however, has still never allowed for an independent impartial inquiry which would have accurately exposed the details of the situation in Grenada which preceded the invasion.