Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Human Rights in Jamaica

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The International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at Loyola Law School is among a number of organizations involved in advocating for Jamaica’s human rights record to be examined for the second time in Geneva by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The review is a result of advocacy on behalf of the IHRC and its partners, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), J-FLAG, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC).

The UPR is a UN peer-led review process aimed at improving the human rights situation of all 193 U.N. Member States. It is a critical mechanism for States to demonstrate their commitment to human rights and develop concrete steps for improving the human rights situation on the ground. In addition to governments, the UPR relies on civil society to provide a comprehensive account of the human rights situation in any given country. In April, Jamaican civil society organizations presented to 26 States in Geneva and met with 11 States individually to share concerns, as well as highlight accomplishments.

The IHRC discussed police extrajudicial killings jointly with JFJ and human rights in the context of mixed migratory flows. JFJ addressed unlawful detention of persons, detention conditions, and the rights of children. CVC considered the right to health and failures in Jamaica’s HIV response to address discrimination and violence towards vulnerable groups. J-FLAG addressed violence and forced displacement of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) people, including LGBT youth.

Several important recommendations from the first UPR cycle have not been acted upon. These include measures for protections against degrading treatment in detention and excessive use of force; eliminating gross delays at the Coroner’s Court and Supreme Court; and enacting policy and legal reform to prevent discrimination.

Today, Wednesday, May 13,  as the Jamaican government reports to the UPR, the IHRC and its partners urge that human rights organizations call the government to make five key commitments:

  1. Commit to enshrining in lawenhanced protections against police abuse and degrading treatment in detention settings. Policy statements, while useful cannot replace legal protections
  2. Agree to complete the review of key child-protection legislation and policies such as the Child Care and Protection Act, Adoption Act and the Child Diversion Policy by the end of 2015
  3. Adopt comprehensive legislation that prevents discrimination on the grounds of all protected categories as recognized in international human rights law
  4. Outline concrete steps to address homelessness such as increasing the number of shelters available including for LGBT youth
  5. Expedite the justice reform program and increase resources to the Courts to address delays in access to justice and impunity

The webcast will be streamed live at 9 a.m. Geneva time (GMT+1) on Wednesday, May 13. A collection of all UPR documents, including the GoJ’s National Report, may be found here.

KJ

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