Gov't committed to protecting human rights, says foreign affairs minister

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, says the Government remains committed to protecting the human rights of Jamaican citizens.

“Jamaica's commitment to human rights promotion and protection has not waned. Currently, we are State party to seven of the nine core international human rights treaties,” she said.

The minister's remarks came in a speech read by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Ambassador Marcia Gilbert-Roberts, at the 'Art for Human Rights' event in commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, held at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts yesterday.

The treaties to which Jamaica is party include the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; as well as the conventions on racial discrimination, women's rights, children's rights, rights of people with disabilities, and migrant workers.

“Jamaica has also assumed several similar human rights commitments at the hemispheric level in the context of the Organization of American States (OAS), and we continue to work diligently to ensure their fulfilment,” Johnson Smith noted.

In keeping with these various international and regional human rights obligations that Jamaica has willingly assumed, the Foreign Affairs Minister pointed out that the Government has been working to put in place the necessary legislative, policy and institutional framework for their implementation.

“I believe the fruit of this labour is evident in the stable and unbroken democracy we have created since Independence, our international recognition as one of the countries that demonstrate the greatest respect for the freedom of information. We have also provided strong protection from discrimination enshrined in our constitution and that is widely respected across the country,” she said.

Johnson Smith pointed to strides made in other areas, including guaranteeing the right to healthcare by ensuring access to health services; ensuring the right to an education through the Government's compulsory education policy; and addressing the right to an adequate standard of living through several initiatives aimed at improving the housing stock, in fulfilment of the right of access to housing.

She noted that the Government continues to make progress in protecting the rights of women and children, who are among the most vulnerable in society.

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