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UN committee criticises Jamaica's human rights

Published:Wednesday | October 19, 2011 | 1:22 PM

Debbie-Ann Wright, Assistant News Editor

The Gleaner/Power 106 News Centre

Jamaica’s human rights track record has again come under scrutiny with the country being cited as lacking in its compliance with international treaties to which it has signed.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee reviewed Jamaica’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

While the Jamaican Government’s representative at the review, Ambassador Wayne McCook, sought to outline the gains Jamaica has made in complying with the treaty, commissioners said the country was lacking in several areas.

Commissioner Krister Thelin called for the Government to reconsider repealing laws banning buggery, which he said was discriminatory.

Another commissioner, Gerald Neuman, criticised the Government for leaving out sexual orientation from the exclusion clause in the Charter of Rights, which was passed earlier this year.

The commissioners also articulated a concern regarding the availability of remedies for persons whose rights are violated.

Meanwhile, the Committee has expressed its disappointment with the Jamaican Government that it did not send a more qualified delegation to the review.

It said it felt Jamaica’s ambassador in Geneva, Wayne McCook, did not have the expertise or knowledge of all the subjects to be able to provide satisfactory answers to the committee.

In addition to the report from the Government, a submission was made by a group of non-government organisations (NGOs), which included Jamaicans for Justice, the Independent Jamaican Council of Human Rights and the Women's Outreach and Resource Centre.