Latest report cites unlawful police killings
The latest Human Rights Report on Jamaica, published by the US State Department, has highlighted its recurring concerns over the island’s human rights record, citing the need for stronger action on the part of the state.
The report, which was published earlier this week, looked at events in 2022.
The report identified significant human rights issues, particularly involving the security forces, with the State Department arguing that civilian authorities at times did not maintain effective control over the security forces.
The report documented that “significant human rights issues included credible reports of unlawful and arbitrary killings by government security forces; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment by the government; harsh and life-threatening conditions in prisons and detention facilities; arbitrary arrest and detention; serious government corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence; and the existence of a law criminalising consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although the government did not enforce the law during the year”.
Excesses by the security forces
The report also documents that, in 2022, there were numerous reports that the security forces committed arbitrary and unlawful killings, referring to hundreds of complaints about abuse and wrongful harm. The US State Department said most complaints and reports cited the Jamaica Constabulary Force, both in its roles as an independent agency and as part of joint military-police activity.
The report observed that there were several reported incidents involving the Jamaica Defence Force. The US State Department acknowledged that the Jamaican Government took some steps to investigate and prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses.
Looking at corruption
In spite of this, there were credible reports that some officials alleged to have committed human rights abuses were not subject to full and swift accountability. The report detailed the conditions in Jamaican prisons and detention facilities as harsh and life threatening, stating that prisoners with mental disabilities and children in juvenile correctional facilities represented the most vulnerable populations facing harsh conditions.
On the issue of corruption, the State Department report on Jamaica posited that the government did not effectively implement the law to combat the problem.
The report cited that “there were numerous credible allegations of government corruption, including by officials who sometimes engaged in corrupt practises with impunity, according to media reports and government audits”.