Jamaica's extra-judicial killings concern UNHRC

Thursday, October 27, 2011

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JAMAICA'S "high numbers of extra-judicial killings by security forces" have triggered the displeasure of the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

The concern is one of several emerging from the recently concluded review of the third periodic report of Jamaica on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) held in Geneva last week.

"The very high numbers of extra-judicial killings by security forces was another subject of concern for the Human Rights Committee. This issue was discussed at length by the UN experts who were worried that the majority of these killings remain inadequately investigated and that there have only been four convictions of police out of more than 3,500 incidences in the past 20 years," the Centre of Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), a NGO that monitors the implementation of the ICCPR worldwide and human right's watchdog group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) said in a joint statement on Monday.

According to the release, chair of the Committee, Zonke Majodina, in her concluding remarks said that "the lack of investigations reinforced the climate of impunity in Jamaica".

The review allowed the Human Rights Committee to raise questions with the Jamaica delegation on several subjects of concern related to civil and political rights.

But Patrick Mutzenberg, director of the CCPR, is on record as being disappointed with the level of representation from Jamaica at that forum.

"The absence of a strong representation from the country is extremely rare and is an alarming signal sent to the United Nations on the little attention and priority paid to human rights by Jamaica," Mutzenberg said.

Meanwhile, JFJ, which led a civil society coalition in providing that meeting with a report on the implementation of the ICCPR at the country level, said "discrimination is at the root of many human rights violations in Jamaica and needs to be urgently addressed by the Government".

The Human Rights Group led by its Executive Director Dr Carolyn Gomes also contended at that showing that the country's " new Charter of Rights, rather than improving protection of human rights, actually weakens the protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, and discrimination against persons with disabilities or HIV / AIDS, among others".

The Human Rights Committee has said it will make its recommendations public on November 4 at which time the Jamaican government will be requested to widely disseminate them at the national level. "It is hoped that the State will initiate a genuine dialogue with all sectors of the society that will lead to the implementation of the recommendations," the committee said.

Monday, the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights when contacted for comment said it would reserve its opinion until that report is made public.

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