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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Wednesday, 13 May 2015 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Jamaica
Represented by eight-member delegation headed by Mark Golding, Minister of Justice.

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Jamaica page on UPR website.

Troika *

Algeria, Estonia, Japan.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:

(See full statement on Jamaica page on UPR Extranet **)

  • The Constitution of Jamaica of 1962 guaranteed the protection of the human rights of all Jamaicans regardless of colour, class or creed. These rights have been further addressed in 2011 through the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms that replaced Chapter three of the Constitution;
  • Jamaica had embarked on a path of national transformation through Vision 2030, Jamaica’s National Development Plan 2009 – 2030, which revolved around four national goals: Jamaicans were empowered to achieve their fullest potential; the Jamaican society was secure, cohesive and just; Jamaica’s economy was prosperous; and Jamaica had a healthy natural environment;
  • The Government’s Economic Reform Programme had yielded positive results, including unemployment reduction, economic growth, reduced inflation, narrowing of the current account deficit and increased local and foreign investments;
  • The needs of the vulnerable remained a top priority for the Government.  In an effort to ensure that the vulnerable in the society were protected, Jamaica’s first comprehensive social protection strategy was developed in 2013 and was approved by the Cabinet in 2014.  The Government was currently also developing a new National Poverty Policy and Programme;
  • The government remained determined in its drive to reduce crime and violence, including through increased emphasis on social interventions, community programmes and more effective policing; these efforts have led to a downward trend in serious crimes over the last five years;
  • Since its first UPR, Jamaica had ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and pornography and was now considering ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;
  • The Government was actively pursuing the establishment of a National Human Rights Institution. It was receiving technical assistance from the Commonwealth and UNDP in this regard;
  • Considerable strides had been made in improving and enhancing access to justice. Several projects and programmes had been developed over the past three years in, inter alia, support of speedy and fair trials and the improvement of the delivery of justice by courts. 
  • Jamaica currently had a de facto moratorium on the application of the death penalty and no decision had been taken to make it de jure.  In 2013 an Act abolishing flogging and whipping as a penalty for any offence was enacted;
  • Corporal punishment had been outlawed in early childhood institutions and children’s homes and places of safety.  The Ministry of Education had sought to take all appropriate administrative measures to ensure that the use of corporal punishment was discontinued in Jamaican schools;
  • Significant progress had been made in addressing many of the recommendations that were made by the Special Rapporteur on torture in his report of his 2012 site visit, including with respect to conditions in detention facilities;
  • An Independent Commission of Investigations had been established in 2010 to ensure that allegations of extrajudicial killings were investigated in a prompt and effective manner.  It had received some 600 complaints each year and about 2,000 investigations were currently underway

Participants

In total 64 States participated in the dialogue:  26 HRC members and 38 observers  (Statements available on Jamaica page on UPR Extranet).

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • The “Vision 2030 National Development Plan”;
  • Accession to the OP of the CRC on the sale of children, child pornography and child prostitution; 
  • The enactment of the Sexual Offences Act and the Child Pornography Prevention Act;
  • Efforts to combat human trafficking and the National Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Persons;
  • The establishment of the Independent Commission of Investigation (INDECOM); 
  • The adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. 

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The rights of LGBT persons and criminalising same sex relations;
  • Steps to uphold the rights of the child;
  • Measures taken to combat discrimination and violence against women;
  • Investigation allegations of crimes committed by law enforcement;
  • Steps to impose a moratorium on the death penalty; 
  • Supporting and protecting human rights defenders.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Jamaica.  These pertained to the following issues, among others: 

  • To decriminalise same sex relations and introduce and implement comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to include sexual orientation and gender; To take measures to reduce violence against LGBT persons;    
  • To repeal the legal provisions making same sex intimacy among men described as “gross indecency and buggery” illegal;  To ensure the equal treatment of people living with HIV and groups vulnerable to HIV;
  • To explicitly prohibit corporal punishment and ensure the revised Child Care and Protection Act prohibited all such acts; To protect children subjected to the worst forms of child labour;
  • To further combat all forms of violence against women, including domestic and sexual violence;
  • To promote and protect gender equality and women’s rights; To address and eliminate negative stereotypes that discriminated against women;
  • To introduce a moratorium on the death penalty;
  • To ensure to effective functioning of the INDECOM to enable it to investigate criminal acts committed by the police; To investigate allegations of excessive or unlawful use of force by police and military and prosecute such cases;
  • To develop programmes aimed at promoting awareness of police on human rights values and principles; To take additional steps to improve conditions of detentions facilities;
  • To implement measures to recognize and protect human rights defenders, including those defending the rights of LGBT persons; 
  • To create a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • To extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the CAT; the Rome Statute of the ICC; the 2nd OP to the ICCPR; the OP to CEDAW; the OP of the ICESCR; the Convention on enforced disappearances; the OP to the CRPD; ILO Convention 169 (indigenous peoples); and the Agreement on Privileges and Immunities of the Court. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Jamaica is scheduled to take place on Friday, 15 May 2015.

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org

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