Press Release

IACHR Publishes Report on Human Rights in Jamaica

January 3, 2013

Washington, D.C. — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) today publishes its Report on the Situation of Human Rights in Jamaica. The report presents the conclusions of monitoring by the IACHR in recent years, including an on-site visit to Jamaica in December 2008, several public hearings on human rights in the country, as well as a constant exchange of information with the State and civil society organizations. The document published today reflects the observations of the Jamaican State on the preliminary version of the report, provided to the State for that purpose.

The IACHR report presents its concerns regarding the situation of citizen security and human rights generally in Jamaica, as well as its observations on the institutional weaknesses in the administration of justice, the problems of excessive use of force and police impunity, the conditions in prisons and penitentiaries, and the legal and procedural regime applied in death penalty cases. In the relevant sections of the report, the IACHR outlines the main problems affecting the most vulnerable sectors at special risk of being subject to human rights violations: persons deprived of liberty; women; children; persons belonging to sexual minorities; persons living with HIV/AIDS; and persons with disabilities. In each of those sections of the report, the Inter-American Commission stresses the obstacles that these groups face in accessing justice and obtaining effective responses to protect their rights.

One of the main areas of concern is the alarming level of violence in Jamaica that has been affecting all sectors of society for many years and has led to progressive deterioration of the human rights situation. In the report, the Inter-American Commission welcomes updated information presented by the State that indicates a decrease in the number of homicides in recent years. However, the rate of violent deaths remains high, and requires the allocation of adequate resources, the strengthening of the capacity and professionalism of the security forces and the judicial process, and the application of integral, effective policies to address the social conditions that generate the violence.

The Inter-American Commission also finds that the profound social and economic marginalization of large sectors of the Jamaican population results in the poorest and most excluded sectors of the population being disproportionately victimized by the overall situation of insecurity. The deep inequalities pervading Jamaican society are exacerbated by the State’s inadequate measures to protect and guarantee the human rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups. In particular, the IACHR finds the violent persecution and fear to which gays and lesbians are subject in Jamaica to be a priority human rights challenge.

The IACHR thanks the authorities of Jamaica who cooperated to make the visit possible, and who contributed the observations presented in March 2012 to the draft report, which have been reflected thoroughly in the final version published today, pursuant to Article 60 of its Rules of Procedure. The valuable information provided by the Jamaican State refers to the steps it has been adopting over the past few years to address and overcome structural situations affecting the full enjoyment of human rights of its population. The IACHR looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the Jamaican State and members of civil society to contribute to this process, within the mandate and powers given to it by the Charter of the OAS, the American Convention on Human Rights, its Statute and Rules of Procedure.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 1/13