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Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Jamaica

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 13 May 2011
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Jamaica, 13 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dce155f3c.html [accessed 21 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Patrick Linton Allen
Head of government: Bruce Golding
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 2.7 million
Life expectancy: 72.3 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 28/28 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 85.9 per cent

Hundreds of people in inner-city communities were the victims of gang murders or police killings. At least 43 reports of extrajudicial executions were received during a two-month state of emergency. Children were detained in conditions that breached human rights standards. At least four people were sentenced to death; there were no executions.

Background

The number of people murdered, mainly in the context of gang violence in marginalized inner-city communities, remained high. A state of emergency was declared in May in Kingston and St Andrew. This followed an outbreak of gang violence as armed supporters of Christopher "Dudus" Coke protested against his extradition to the USA on drug-related charges. The state of emergency remained in force until 22 July.

On 23 July, six anti-crime bills entered into force. Some of their provisions are in breach of human rights principles and standards.

Jamaica's human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November.

Police and security forces

The number of people reportedly killed by the police reached a record high. Evidence suggested that some of the killings may have been unlawful killings, including extrajudicial executions.

Following a visit to Jamaica in February, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture reported that many people had been beaten in detention by police. He recommended, among other things, that Jamaica ratify the UN Convention against Torture.

At least 4,000 people were detained during the state of emergency and 76 people were killed, including three members of the security forces. The Office of the Public Defender received at least 43 complaints of extrajudicial executions.

  • Sheldon Davis, a physically disabled man, was killed in Tivoli Gardens on 30 May. According to Sheldon Davis' mother, around 30 law enforcement officers came to their house and started interrogating him. They accused him of being involved in gang violence, which he denied. He was taken into custody, and several days later his family found out that he had been killed. The security forces reported that he was killed after attempting to grab a soldier's gun. An investigation was ongoing at the end of the year.

The Office of the Public Defender initiated an independent investigation into complaints received about the conduct of the security forces during the state of emergency. At the end of the year, ballistic tests had still not started. Jamaican human rights NGOs expressed concern at the failure to preserve crime scenes and to ensure accountability for the use of firearms by members of the security forces.

In August, the Independent Commission of Investigations, which is tasked with investigating abuses by the security forces, formally began its operations. However, at the end of the year, it was still engaged in recruiting and training staff, and mainly supervised investigations carried out by the police Bureau of Special Investigation.

Justice system

Although during the UPR the government stated that reforms to the justice system were being implemented, considerable delays continued to be reported in the delivery of justice. By the end of the year, the Office of the Special Coroner, which is supposed to examine fatal shootings by police, had still not been established.

Children's rights

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture reported that children continued to be held together with adults in police detention and in some correctional centres. He also noted that children and adolescents in need of care and protection, children with learning difficulties, and those in conflict with the law were often held together.

In March, the Armadale Inquiry investigating the deaths of seven girls in the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre on 22 May 2009, reported that practices found at the Centre contravened the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Administration of Juvenile Justice. In response, the government announced that it would implement a number of measures, including the separation of children on remand from those under correctional orders. However, in October, the Children's Advocate disclosed that more than 100 children were still held in police lockups together with adults.

Violence against women and girls

Sexual violence remained widespread and reports of sexual abuse of children rose compared to 2009, according to police statistics published in September.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Scores of homophobic attacks, harassment and threats against of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people were reported to LGBT organizations, including at least three cases of "corrective" rapes of lesbians.

  • On 3 September, a woman was raped by a gang of six men who had previously verbally abused her. She also suffered genital mutilation after the rape.

A survey of 11 lesbian, bisexual and transgender women victims of violence found that only one had reported the rape to the police and after two years she was still waiting for the court hearing. The others had not reported the crime because they feared being criminalized on account of their sexual orientation.

Death penalty

At least four people were sentenced to death; no executions were carried out. There were seven people on death row at the end of the year.

In September, the government announced that it was considering submitting to the Parliament an amended version of the Charter of Rights. The amendment would reverse a 1993 ruling by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, the highest court of appeal, that execution after five years on death row was inhuman and degrading punishment.

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