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Expand anti-discrimination provisions of Constitution, include disabilities - Public Defender

Published:Tuesday | May 9, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Arlene Harrison Henry


Public Defender, Arlene Harrison-Henry, has called for an expansion of the anti-discrimination provisions of the Constitution to include disabilities, noting that the most vulnerable groups in the society must be explicitly protected.

"Much more needs to be done to make the Constitution truly include all Jamaicans," said Harrison-Henry who was speaking at a recent public forum, where findings were presented on research entitled "Unfinished Business - An Analysis of Constitutional Reform in Jamaica".

Fellow speaker at the forum, Nancy Anderson of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights lamented the fact that the Disabilities Act of 2014 remained unenforceable, three years after its passage, as its effective date has not been established by successive ministers.

Harrison-Henry called on the Government to take immediate steps to bring the legislation into force, noting that persons with disabilities were among the least protected from discrimination in the Jamaican society.

The Public Defender endorsed the research's recommendation for a renewed, comprehensive Constitution reform process with wide, public participation islandwide. "It is the duty of this generation to take up the unfinished business of constitutional reform," she said.

Harrison-Henry welcomed the research, done by attorney-at-law, Danielle Andrade-Goffe, on behalf of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and Jamaica Civil Society Forum. It formed a part of the groups' joint, two-year project supported by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, aimed at strengthening evidence-based policy advocacy by civil society.