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Jamaica Makes Progress on Human Rights

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2015 | 1:23 PM
Justice Minister Mark Golding

Jamaica has been successful in implementing many of the recommendations on human rights, made by the United Nations Human Rights Council, as they relate to groups like prisoners, children and gays, Minister of Justice Mark Golding revealed yesterday.

The country's human-rights records were reviewed by the United Nations Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, and Golding, presented the national report to the council, in Geneva.

On conditions in prisons and detention facilities, he noted that the number of persons in police custody decreased by 25 per cent in 2014 resulting in a 50 per cent reduction in overcapacity. He also reported that the number of juveniles in correctional facilities have been reduced by 42 per cent and that police fatal shootings are down by 45 per cent, adding that all police recruits now receive human-rights training.

"In April of this year, Cabinet approved a new administration policy for persons deprived of their liberty, this is an internal policy for the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) and the correctional services, in relation to how they deal with persons in their custody," he said

"The policy is rights-based and addresses issues relating to children, mentally ill persons and the disabled, who are held in custody," he added.

Independent monitoring

He went on to explain that several policy initiatives to improve the independent monitoring of lock-ups have been developed.

According to Golding, "these initiatives include a more structured approach to lock-up visits by justices of the peace and consequent actions to be taken thereafter. These proposals are undergoing detailed analysis and consideration."

Pointing to the fact that a number of women hold key positions in the public and private sector, Golding said Jamaica continues to make progress on issues of women's rights.

"Gender-based violence, however, remains a challenge and requires a multi-stakeholder approach in seeking solutions. A national strategic plan to eliminate gender-based violence in Jamaica is being finalised," he said.

As it relates to trafficking in persons, he said "the Government of Jamaica is spearing no effort in addressing the issue of trafficking in persons ... . It has been difficult to secure convictions, as victims and witnesses have been reluctant to come forward. Currently, there are eight such cases before our courts."

In regards to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) issues, Golding noted that the JCF has introduced a diversity policy which guides police conduct in dealing with particular groups including the LGBT people.