Human Rights Committee member visits Jamaica

Published on 26 Jul 2017, 10:37 AM

CCPR-Centre and its local partner in Jamaica organised a visit of a Committee member to follow-up on the Concluding Observations

Margo Waterval, Human Rights Committee member, with representatives from the Minister of National Security

Six months after the review of Jamaica by the Human Rights Committee, the CCPR-Centre and its national partner, Jamaicans for Justice, organised a follow-up visit to the country in collaboration with the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of Justice.

A Delegation composed by Margo Waterval, member of the Human Rights Committee, and Andrea Meraz, Programme Manager at CCPR-Centre, visited Jamaica from 16 to 19 May 2017.

The main purpose of the visit was to continue the dialogue with the national authorities regarding the implementation of Committee’s Concluding Observations, with particular focus on the recommendations selected for the follow-up procedure of the Committee, namely:

  • Voluntary termination of pregnancy: amend the abortion legislation to help women address unplanned pregnancies and take measures to protect women against the health risks associated with unsafe abortions
  • Prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment: expedite efforts to reduce overcrowding in places of detention, including by resorting to alternatives to imprisonment, and improve conditions of detention.
  • Rights of the child: amend legislation in a timely manner to remove the possibility of incarcerating a child on the basis of being “beyond parental control” and address gaps in service delivery to children in conflict with the law.

Key issues and meetings

The Delegation had a strategic meeting with Birgit Gerstenberg, Senior Human Rights Advisor of OHCHR in Jamaica to identify other key issues to be addressed during the mission, such as:

  • the establishment of the NHRI
  • the institutionalisation of the National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow-up (NMRF)
  • the adoption of the Disability Act and the need of an Anti-discrimination Act
  • the criminalisation of torture

 The Delegation then met with national authorities to raise those and other issues, including:

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Justice
  • Ministry of National Security
  • Ministry of Education, Youth and Information
  • Office of the Children’s Advocate

Furthermore, the Delegation participated in a cultural event on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia and visited Trenchtown to meet with leaders from the Rastafari Millenium Council and the Ethio-Africa Diaspora Union.

Positive steps

The meetings achieved the purpose of continuing the dialogue on the implementation of the ICCPR in Jamaica. In this sense, the Delegation was informed about some positive steps such as the outlaw of the corporal punishment in public schools and measures taken to reduce holding minors in police cells for more than 24 hours.

The Delgation was also informed that the Cabinet has approved the establishment of the NHRI and the aim is that it starts its functions by the end of 2017. Concerning the NMRF, the Delegation was told that Jamaica has an inter-ministerial mechanism for reporting and follow-up which meets regularly under the auspices of the Minister of Justice.

Issues of concern

Some issues remain of concern such as the negative of the Jamaican government to revise the restrictive legislation on abortion, on death penalty or to re-accede the First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR on individual communications.

A follow-up report on the priority Concluding Observations will be submitted to the Human Rights Committee by the end of the year.

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