Mon | Oct 25, 2021

Local human-rights groups back IACHR commissioner

Published:Monday | April 1, 2019 | 12:00 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer

Human-rights advocates have come out in strong support of Margarette Macaulay following calls from local church and civil-society groups for Jamaica to withdraw its support for the former human-rights judge to serve a second term as a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS) and has been at the forefront of championing LGBT and abortion rights.

In a statement, the Jamaica Human Rights Network, which includes Jamaicans for Justice, WOMAN Inc, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and other human-rights groups and advocates, said that recent attacks on Macaulay by lobbies and calls for the revocation of her nomination for a second term to the IACHR reflect a misunderstanding of the role of the IACHR and its members and the eligibility requirements for election.

The Jamaica Human Rights Network said as required by the statute of the IACHR, the elected commissioners are “persons of high moral character and recognised competence in the field of human rights” who serve as individual experts not representing any state.

Noting Macaulay’s experience as a judge on the Inter-American Court of Human Rights from 2007 to 2012 and serving as the commission president between 2018 and 2019, the Jamaica Human Rights Network said her accomplishments speak for themselves.

Noting that Macaulay was the Jamaican first woman to serve as a judge on the IACHR, the group said she contributed to the formulation of the court’s rules of procedure and was involved in deciding some of the region’s most important cases related to gender-based violence.

The group asserted that while all sectors are entitled to share opinions on the merits of candidates nominated to sit on the IACHR, targeted campaigns to eliminate highly qualified candidates who do not share their religious views are unprecedented.

Earlier this month, the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, Jamaica CAUSE, the Love March Movement, Hear the Children’s Cry, the Jamaica Evangelical Alliance, and the Portmore Holiness Christian Church urged the Andrew Holness-led Government to withdraw its support for the renomination of Macaulay, citing that she had shown a lack of respect for those who did not share her opinion on gay marriage.

The groups said that support for human rights did not necessitate “support for her personal ideology to be imposed upon the people of Jamaica”. They said the outcome would be arbitrary and unreasonable discrimination against the majority of Jamaicans.

The OAS will hold its 49th general assembly in Colombia in June 2019, where commissioners to IACHR will be elected.