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Stabroek News

Amnesty seeks hotline for gays
published: Wednesday | April 18, 2007

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL has said it intends to ask the police for a hotline that would allow people, especially homosexuals, in danger of being mobbed, to call for assistance.

Marian Carla Gullotta, coordinator of the human right's group here in Jamaica, said recent events in Manchester, where people believed to be homosexuals were attacked at a funeral, were one reason it is important that such measures be taken at least in the short term.

The human rights group and members of the Police High Command are to meet soon to discuss this and other proposals.

The police have confirmed that a meeting is to be held but have not revealed a date.

Meanwhile, they have also shrugged off criticism that lawmen are guilty of treating 'gay' victims of crimes differently.

"We treat all cases the same no matter the people involved," Karl Angell, the Jamaica Constabulary Force's director of communication, told The Gleaner. "Our intention is always to solve all cases."

Impartial

He added: "The police have been impartial and our record shows that we have been open in our investigations and have even called in independent observers, as in the case of Steve Harvey, when the Political Ombudsman observed proceedings."

Harvey, a leading gay activist in the country, was abducted and murdered by gunmen on the eve of World AIDS Day 2005 in what appeared to have been a homophobic attack.

The reception towards gays among the police has not always been good but there has been some improvement, Ms. Gullotta said.

"I was not satisfied at all with the police in the incident at the funeral," she added.

"I was calling the Manchester police and I didn't get any answers out of the seven numbers that I got from the directory."

Among the other things that Amnesty is asking for is a role in the training programme for new policemen and women.

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