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UK | Nov 13, 2020

UK raises concerns about human rights abuses in Jamaica’s penal system

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British government also concerned about high rate of fatal shootings by security forces

Rita French, Britain’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva. (Photo: Twitter @RitaUNHR)

The United Kingdom is today raising concerns about reports of abuses in Jamaica’s correctional system and the high rate of fatal shooting incidents involving the security services.

In a statement delivered on the United Nations Human Rights Council’s third review of Jamaica’s human rights record this week, the British Government made known its concerns, particularly on these two areas.

Jamaica’s human rights record was put under the microscope this week by the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group during its ongoing session, which ends today.

In a statement to the working group, penned by Rita French, Britain’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and its International Ambassador for Human Rights, the Jamaican government was urged to “continue to work to reduce fatal shooting incidents by strengthening the Independent Commission of Investigations, and ensuring that the Jamaican correctional system adheres to international human rights standards”.

The British human rights expert shared her country’s three-point recommendations to improve Jamaica’s human rights record.

The Andrew Holness administration has been urged to respond constructively to a Government Taskforce report on the long-term incarceration of mentally ill people in Jamaican prisons.

The first recommendation is that the Andrew Holness administration respond constructively to the anticipated Government Taskforce report on the long-term incarceration of mentally ill people in Jamaican prisons and address the systemic failures identified by the Independent Commission on Investigations.

The second recommendation calls for improvements in the effectiveness of victim identification and support for victims of human trafficking by developing victim-centred, trauma-informed procedures in law enforcement operations, investigations and criminal justice proceedings, and increase efforts to investigate, prosecute, and convict traffickers.

The Tower Street Adult Correctional Centre in Kingston, Jamaica. (Photo: dcs.gov.jm)

Finally the Boris Johnson government is advising its Jamaican counterpart to ”adopt an open, merit-based process when selecting national candidates for UN Treaty Body elections”.

According to Ambassador French, “the UK welcomes Jamaica’s engagement with the UPR process, and we recognise the progress made in the area of media freedom”.

Jamaica is one of 14 countries that the UN’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group reviewed their human rights record. Jamaica’s assessment was based on documents such as its national human rights report, which has been submitted to the UN’s Human Rights Council by the Andrew Holness administration.

In addition to Jamaica’s national human rights report, the working group will also examined other documents including reports of independent human rights experts and groups. The working group discussed information provided by stakeholder groupings including national human rights institutions, such as Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), civil society groups and regional organisations.

In assessing countries’ human rights records, the working group subjects all 193 Member States of the United Nations to scrutiny on a periodic basis by its Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review Working Group. Jamaica’s first review was done in April 2008 with all 193 UN member states being reviewed twice within the first and second round cycles.

Major General Antony Anderson, commissioner of police. The Jamaica Constabulary Force has regulary been criticised for what is considered the high rate of fatal shooting incidents involving the security services.

DDP

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