• Annual Report
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Jamaica 2016/2017

Unlawful killings and extrajudicial executions continued. Violence against women and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people persisted. Children continued to be detained in violation of international standards.

Background

In February, the Jamaica Labour Party won the general election and Andrew Holness became Prime Minister.

Despite committing to the establishment of a national human rights institution, Jamaica had not established the mechanism by the end of the year.

Jamaica continued to have one of the highest homicide rates in the Americas.

Police and security forces

In June, a Commission of Enquiry published its much-anticipated report into the events that took place in Western Kingston during the state of emergency, declared on 23 May 2010, which left at least 69 people dead. Almost 900 pages long, the report identified a number of cases of possible extrajudicial execution and produced a number of important recommendations for police reform.1

In an official response, the Jamaica Constabulary Force accepted a number of recommendations, such as committing to hold administrative reviews into the conduct of officers named in the Commissioners’ report. However, the police continued to refuse to accept any responsibility for human rights violations or extrajudicial executions during the state of emergency. By the end of the year, the government had still not officially indicated how it would implement the recommendations of the Commissioners.

While the number of killings by police have significantly reduced in recent years, 111 people were killed by law enforcement officials in 2016, compared with 101 in 2015. Women whose relatives were killed by police, and their families, experienced pervasive police harassment and intimidation, and faced multiple barriers to accessing justice, truth and reparation.

Violence against women and girls

According to local NGOs, national legislation to address violence against women remained inadequate. For example, the Sexual Offences Act continued to narrowly define rape as non-consensual penile penetration of a woman’s vagina by a man, and to protect against marital rape in certain circumstances only. By December, over 470 women and girls had reported rape during the year, according to the police.

Criminalization of women engaged in sex work continued to place them at risk of discrimination, arbitrary arrest and violence by the police.2

Children’s rights

The NGO Jamaicans for Justice reported that children were still being detained in police lockups for being “uncontrollable”, often for illegal periods and in inhumane conditions.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people

There remained no legal protection against discrimination based on real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Young LGBTI people continued to face bullying and harassment in the absence of legal protection. Consensual sex between men remained criminalized.

Between January and June, 23 people reported to the LGBTI rights NGO J-FLAG that they had been physically assaulted or attacked because of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

A survey published by J-FLAG found deeply homophobic attitudes. For example, only 36% of Jamaicans surveyed said they would allow their gay child to continue to live at home. Almost 60% of respondents said they would harm an LGBTI person who approached them.

In June, the Attorney General used social media to criticize the US Embassy for flying a Pride flag after the killings of LGBTI people in a nightclub in Orlando, USA.

In August, for the second year in a row, J-FLAG held activities to celebrate Pride Week.

International Justice

Jamaica again failed to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, signed in September 2000, nor had it adhered to the UN Convention against Torture or the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

  1. Jamaica: State of Emergency 2010 – ten things the government must learn, and ten things it must do (AMR 38/4337/2016)
  2. "I feel scared all the time": A Jamaican sex worker tells her story (News story 27 May 2016)

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Get the Amnesty International Report 2016/17