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Human rights group releases list of major issues to be addressed by Bunting

Published:Sunday | May 11, 2014 | 6:27 PM

Human rights advocate, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), has released a list of issues it considers paramount for the national security minister to address in his Sectoral Debate presentation on Tuesday.

Atop the list, JFJ says Peter Bunting should reveal the measures that he will implement to hold the commissioner of police and his divisional commanders accountable for the number of police fatal shootings.

There were 255 police fatal shootings in 2013, 20 more than in 2012.

JFJ says following the minister's declaration in 2012 that the police commissioner would be held to account for a reduction in fatal shootings, he must now tell citizens what has been done in this regard.

The human rights lobby group says Bunting must also reveal how he intends to support the strengthening of the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) to improve accountability in the police force. JFJ argues that the current review of the INDECOM Act presents an excellent opportunity for the national security minister to strengthen the powers of the investigating agency, a move he is obliged to undertake.

Moving to the issue of children in police lockups, JFJ contends that although the number of children being placed in adult correctional facilities and remand centres has reduced, ad hoc operational changes implemented without a vision or plan has resulted in systemic inefficiencies. Consequently, it says the minister is obligated to outline in his contribution on Tuesday, a plan to reform the juvenile justice system, which must include how the rights of children in lock ups will be protected.

Also, JFJ is querying the proposed timeline to review the Corrections Act to strengthen the protection of the rights of children in lock ups. It says Bunting must commit to reviewing the Act this legislative year to establish a legal framework for the treatment of children in correctional facilities.

And finally, JFJ says Bunting must address whether the Horizon Remand Centre and the Fort Augusta Correctional facility will be de-gazzetted as institutions to hold children.

The rights group says although Bunting had appropriately acted to remove the girls who were being housed at Fort Augusta, he failed to de-gazette the facility. JFJ says although the minister had committed to de-gazette the facilities from last July, boys are still being housed at the Horizon Remand Centre without adequate support, including access to education.


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