Human Rights Committee considers report of Jamaica

Human Rights Committee
20 October 2011

The Human Rights Committee has considered the third periodic report of Jamaica on the measures undertaken by that country to implement the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Presenting the report, Wayne McCook, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that despite challenges the country had achieved a number of key social indicators, including the 2011 Charter of Fundamental Freedoms which included provisions for protection from inhuman treatment, right to due process, property rights and right to freedom of religious beliefs. The Government acknowledged that the situation in prisons and lock ups remained far from satisfactory, although overpopulation in prisons must be seen in the context of the high crime level. The Government was actively seeking funding for the construction of new prison facilities. The Government took its commitment to promoting gender equality seriously. One of the most notable political achievements for women was the appointment in 2006 of the first female Prime Minster, who served for almost two years and now led the Parliamentary Opposition. Although serious steps had been taken to deepen the legislative and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights in Jamaica, the Government acknowledged that there was room for improvement and was committed to completing a number of initiatives for the further promotion and protection of human rights.

Over the course of two meetings, the Jamaican delegation answered questions posed by Committee members relating to a number of issues, including the death penalty and its moratorium, the use of corporal punishment, especially in private schools, and the 2009 protests. Prison conditions and plans for reform were raised, as were the situation of the Maroon minority, constitutional amendments and the application of the Covenant by lawyers, judges and courts. Committee Experts expressed concerns about acts of homophobia in Jamaica, including violence towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons community, domestic violence, clandestine abortions and sexual harassment and discrimination of women in the private sector.

In concluding remarks, Mr. McCook thanked members of his delegation who had been working on the report from Kingston, Jamaica, and had provided additional responses in real-time. As a small developing country which had implemented cost-cutting measures, including travel expenses, the Government used resident Missions to their fullest, as in Geneva. The answers the Committee sought were from the Government, which the delegation was authorized to give.

In preliminary closing remarks Zonke Zanele Majodina, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the delegation and said that the Charter for Human Rights was a positive development, although it included provisions not in line with the Covenant. Another positive development was the curbing of unauthorized powers by law enforcement officials. Discrimination appeared to be at the root of many human rights violations in Jamaica, and that should be addressed not only in policy, but in practice. Another area of concern was that of extrajudicial killings and the lack of investigation into those, which encouraged a situation of impunity. Child rights were also a concern. The Committee noted that Jamaica did not intend to ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the Convention, and urged the State party to reconsider ratification, and to enforce the moratorium on the death penalty.

The delegation from Jamaica included the Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, the Deputy Permanent Representative and the Human Rights Officer and First Secretary of the Permanent Mission of Jamaica.

The Committee will meet on Thursday 20 October at 3 p.m. when it will begin its consideration of the second periodic report of Kuwait (CCPR/C/KWT/2).

Report

The third periodic report of Jamaica (CCPR/C/JAM/3) says that since the submission to the Human Rights Committee of Jamaica’s second periodic report in 1997 the State party has undergone several key political developments, and has signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol, as well as the Convention on the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. Jamaica continues to grapple with several socioeconomic challenges compounded by the global economic crisis, not least the increasing incidence of crime and violence, in part fuelled by the proliferation of small arms and illicit drugs.

Several pieces of legislation have been passed that promote the rights of women and eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, namely the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act of 2004, the Property Act of 2004, the Maintenance Act of 2005, the Child Care and Protection Act of 2004 (which among other provisions prohibits the execution of a child) and the 2008 Sexual Offences Act, which establishes the offence of marital rape, gives anonymity to victims and abolishes the presumption that a boy under 14 years is incapable of committing rape, and also the assumption that a woman who has had sexual intercourse outside of marriage is an untruthful and unreliable witness. There is an active public education programme addressing deeply entrenched stereotypical views regarding issues of masculinity relating to gender-based violence.

In 2005 the Offences Against the Person Act reformed capital punishment sentencing, meaning that the mandatory death sentence for murder was no longer applicable. In 2008 Parliament voted by a majority of 34 to 15 to retain the death penalty. Plans to build a 5,000-bed adult correctional facility have been initiated and there was an ongoing programme to improve existing prison conditions, provide better treatment for inmates, including meeting dietary needs, train prison staff and provide visiting facilities. In 2007 the Government embarked on a programme of compulsory child registration. Jamaica remains committed to the promotion and protection of human rights and the rule of law.

Opening Remarks

In opening remarks ZONKE ZANELE MAJODINA, Chairperson of the Committee, said that the Committee was disappointed that nobody from the capital, Kingston, had come to Geneva to deliver the report. That did not reflect well on Jamaica in how they viewed their obligations to fulfil the Covenant. She hoped in the future that would be revised.

Presentation of the Report

WAYNE McCOOK, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that Jamaica had a long tradition of stable multi-party democracy with deep respect for the law and fundamental rights. As a small island developing economy, Jamaica faced many problems in attaining the goals it had been set, as well as facing challenges from the global financial crisis and high indebtedness, which had seriously impacted on the social welfare programmes the Government wished to undertake. However, a number of key social indicators had been achieved, including a reduction of poverty, malnutrition and hunger, and good progress in obtaining a number of key Millennium Development Goals.

With respect to the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights into domestic legislation, the Jamaican Constitution and a number of national laws contained and gave effect to the rights contained in the Covenant and by that virtue may be enforced in domestic courts. As early as 1974 several institutions had been established to promote and protect human rights, including the Office of the Public Defender, the Independent Commission of Investigations, the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and the Office of Children’s Welfare. A Charter of Fundamental Freedoms was legislated in April 2011 which included provisions for protection from inhuman treatment, right to due process, property rights and right to freedom of religious beliefs. The Childcare and Protection Act was passed in 2004 to increase protection of children in care. The Cyber Crimes Act 2010 complemented legislation on child pornography and protected children from cyber crimes. Jamaica had also ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, strengthening protection for that vulnerable sector of society.

The Government continued to make steady progress in the promotion of gender equality and it had launched the National Policy for Gender Equality in March 2011, to complement amended and new legislation for the protection of men and women in society. The Bureau of Women’s Affairs had since undertaken several initiatives including training and sensitization workshops to build public awareness. In recognition of the need to address the shortcomings of the justice system, also highlighted by the Committee in 1997, the Government of Jamaica engaged in a Justice Transformation Programme with bilateral partners to undertake a comprehensive review of the justice system in an effort to modernize and facilitate the efficient operations of the system. Although serious and far reaching steps had been taken to deepen the legislative and institutional framework for the promotion and protection of human rights in Jamaica, the Government acknowledged that there was room for improvement and was committed to completing, as soon as possible, a number of initiatives for the further promotion and protection of human rights.

Summary of Responses to List of Advance Questions

Continuing his presentation, WAYNE McCOOK, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Jamaica to Geneva, provided oral answers to a list of written questions sent to the Government of Jamaica in advance. He said that most of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights were contained in the Jamaican Constitution. While the provisions could not be directly invoked before domestic courts, they were enforceable insofar as they were addressed in the Constitution and other specific legislation. The Government did not intend to accede to the Optional Protocol of the Covenant.

The Government took its commitment to promoting gender equality seriously. One of the most notable political achievements for women was the appointment in 2006 of the first female Prime Minster, who served for almost two years and now led the Parliamentary Opposition. Women had a higher literacy rate than men and girls outperformed boys at all educational levels. Regrettably challenges existed in respect of exploitation of women. The National Policy for Gender Equality would significantly mainstream gender in programmes and plans, and create more opportunity for redress. Reducing violence against women and girls remained a priority for the Government. Since the third periodic report was presented, there had been several legislative and other measures put in place to address the issue of sexual violence against women and girls. Chief among them was the Sexual Offences Act of 2009. That Act created new provisions for the prosecution of rape and other sexual offences, including marital rape, anonymity of complainant in rape and other sexual offences, as well as incest. There were parliamentary discussions on legalizing safe abortion, as it was recognized that illicit abortions were a contributor to the maternal mortality rate.

The Government did not condone discrimination or violence against homosexuals. Although consensual sex between adult males remained proscribed by law, there was no legal discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation. In 2007 the Government adopted the Trafficking in Persons Act, which criminalized trafficking in persons and provided for fines and custodial sentences for perpetrators. To enforce the law a Trafficking in Persons Unit was established within the police force. A shelter to house victims of trafficking had also been developed. In addition to domestic legislation, the Broadcasting Commission ensured that the operations and programming of media licensees met legal standards. For example in 2009, in response to public outcry about the insidious effects of lewd sexual lyrics and songs promoting violence, in particular against gays and lesbians, in certain dancehall songs aired on national radio, the Broadcasting Commission banned the airing of those songs.

The Government acknowledged that the situation in prisons and lock ups remained far from satisfactory. Overpopulation in prisons however must be seen in the context of the high crime level. The Government was actively seeking funding for the construction of new prison facilities, and in the interim had affected repairs to prison facilities in order to improve the living conditions of inmates. Inmates were also provided with education and skills training. The Government had accepted liability for the fire at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre that claimed the lives of seven girls and had agreed to compensate the relatives of the victims. Concerning the rights of persons belonging to minorities, like all Jamaicans, Maroons were involved in every aspect of national and political life and had access to education and employment. Maroons maintained some amount of autonomy in the management of their affairs but abided by the laws of Jamaica.

Questions by Committee Members

A Committee member said there were several areas of concern in how the Government of Jamaica was protecting and promoting human rights in their country. The delegation was clear that they did not intend to accede to the Optional Protocol, but the member asked them to reconsider. There was no national human rights institution according to the Paris Principles, but there were several Governmental organizations dealing with human rights – what was their mandate and resources?

Information received showed that there was no protection for persons living with HIV AIDS in Jamaica, despite Jamaica pledging to remove legislation discriminating against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

There were discriminatory laws against homosexuals. Also there were reports of harassment and abuse of gay men and sex workers. There were also reports of mob killings of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. What measures was the Government taking to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and sex workers from discrimination and violence? The prohibition of consensual sex between male adults provided encouragement to police and private persons to treat homosexuals as criminals.

The State party’s progress in helping place women in responsible political positions had been significant. Electoral success was much more limited: had the State party considered pushing political parties to nominate more women candidates? A member noted that the Ministry of Labour had been proactive in promoting the Equal Pay for Equal Work law. However was there a general prohibition of gender discrimination in employment, particularly hiring? Sexual harassment in the workplace was not prohibited by law, although there was a policy discouraging it.

A member asked about the circumstances of the incidents surrounding the possible extradition of a popular individual in Jamaica. There were street protests and some persons had died. What was the outcome of investigations of that event, and were law enforcement personnel found guilty of the use of excessive force? Regarding the right to life, 253 persons were killed at the hands of the police in the events of 2009. The Committee would like updated information on related enquiries. Non-governmental organizations and the public had been speaking about the high level of insecurity in Jamaica, and also the high level of impunity.

Killings of human rights defenders had been reported, including Brian Williamson and Lenford ‘Steve’ Harvey. There was an investigation into their deaths resulting in a conviction for the killer of Mr. Wilson, and a member hoped a conviction for Mr. Harvey’s killer would follow.

A Committee member pointed out that the Committee recognized the death penalty was not forbidden under international legislation, but took steps to persuade States parties to abolish it. However Jamaica had refused to consider abolition, despite having a moratorium of several years. When a State already had a moratorium it was a logical step to move onto abolition of the death penalty, which violated the Covenant.

Abortion was illegal in Jamaica and women who resorted to clandestine abortion were held criminally responsible. The Government said there were only three or four cases of women having clandestine abortions per year, although that was a strikingly low, in fact insignificant figure – could it be a result of data protection or women’s fear of reporting when they had had an abortion? There were cases where a woman died from a clandestine abortion and the person who conducted the abortion was prosecuted. What obligation did Parliament have to protect the lives of all citizens, including pregnant women?

An Expert noted that elements of Jamaica’s legislation were a legacy left by the colonial power – particularly corporal punishment and the death penalty. It had now been 40 years since independence, and the Expert said he hoped that after 50 years much of those issues would have been revised, especially as that colonial power itself had already made many of those reforms. The moratorium on the death penalty was a positive step, as by definition it meant that people were not being executed. However could the Committee hear more details on the moratorium? What was the status of those on death row, did they remain under the shadow of the rope? Was the moratorium considered to be informal and unofficial or formal and official, which was helpful in persons knowing what their fate may be. One thing that the Expert’s country, the United Kingdom, learnt in the eight years between 1957 and 1965 (the date of formal abolition), was that a moratorium led to further arbitrariness in sentencing. What attempts had been made to review that aspect of the law dealing with murder sentencing?

The issue of corporal punishment was raised by the Committee in 1997; now, in the current report, there was reference to the possibility of legislation to abolish corporal punishment. Was judicial corporal punishment now obsolete?

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said they were satisfied that their obligation as required under the Covenant was being met by the approach of enacting legislation within the contours of the Covenant, and had taken specific notes of points regarding sufficiency of State laws under the Convention.

Corporal punishment was declared unconstitutional in 1998, and as Jamaica was a common law jurisdiction there was the capacity for such judgements to take the effect of a law. A few years ago two men argued that a sentence of flogging given to them was cruel and degrading, and the court ruled that it was. Jamaica had therefore complied with that ruling.

The delegation would seek further guidance on accession to the Optional Protocol, although the Government’s current position was not contemplating a return to the Optional Protocol. However the delegate took note that the removal of mandatory death sentences would appear to give the view that it would be possible to accede to and implement the Optional Protocol.

With respect to implementing a national human rights body under the Paris Principles, it would be recorded under the Universal Period Review process that it was under consideration. Such a body must be based on a proper foundation to be fully staffed and funded.

The Quarantine Act was primarily related to issues of contagious disease, but there was concern from members that it had been misused for persons with HIV/AIDS.

Any instances of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons would be treated the same as any other violent crime. The criminalization of consensual sex between males stood, and there was no current submission to change that law. The delegation noted the observations made by members.

Jamaica acknowledged that women’s representation in political life was low, although since the report was published it must be mentioned that there was now a woman Speaker in the Parliament.

Jamaica was committed to the International Labour Organization standard of Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value, but was aware that there was a gender pay gap.

The numbers of civilians killed in the 2009 confrontation was under investigation by the Public Defender, and the results had not yet been submitted. It would not be appropriate to provide more information on the outcomes. However certain steps were taken at the time, for instance securing the services of pathologists from overseas.

The delegation interpreted the question on the moratorium of the death penalty to be whether it was an Act. No executions had taken place over the reporting periods, but there had been no provisions that it would not take place. The sentence remained on the books and the possibility of implementation of the death penalty remained. It was not the case that the Government had taken permanent measures to implement a stay of execution for a particular purpose or with particular parameters.

When persons were found to have conducted or contributed to the death of a woman in the course of an abortion it was subject to criminal penalty by the courts.

Follow-Up Questions

A Committee member said the fact that no delegation had come from the capital had prevented several questions from being answered.

A member again raised concern about the status of the death penalty and the thinking of the Government over it, with particular regard to individuals who had been on ‘death row’ for some 13 years, waiting to hear about their fate. Although it was better to be on death row and alive, they were often in unsatisfactory conditions as well.

Response by the Delegation

The delegation said that the mandate-funded budget of human rights organizations in Jamaica was lengthy, and would be made available to the Committee.

There was no protection for persons living with HIV/AIDS, especially with respect to the Quarantine Act and the Venereal Diseases Act. The Quarantine Act was focused on threats to public health from points of entry to the island, ships and aircraft, and did not discriminate against Jamaicans living with HIV/AIDS.

To guarantee protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender populations and sex workers, there had been no credible cases of harassment by the police nor was there any policy on their treatment. Members of those communities increasingly had political representation.

Parties had been encouraged to nominate more women as political candidates. Discussions were held in March 2011 on the National Policy for Gender Equality with respect to increasing women’s representation as a matter of priority. The Policy had specific quotas on women’s representation in the Senate. More awareness raising was necessary as the quota system was not fully understood either by the political parties or the public. Research had been conducted in that area by non-governmental organizations. The Bureau was part of the Advisory Committee involved. Other awareness-raising measures had taken place in schools. It was clear there was movement towards a quota system but the process of sensitization to make it happen was ongoing.

With respect to addressing gender discrimination in the private sector, the new Charter of Rights meant persons could bring charges for gender discrimination. The Charter’s provisions and the maternity leave act would both provide grounds for discriminated persons to bring charges. There was a draft Anti-Sexual Harassment policy, worked on by the Bureau for Women’s Affairs, and it would be submitted for cabinet approval. There had already been sensitizing and training of the relevant private sector parties.

Enrolment at primary and junior school level was higher for boys than for girls. However more girls were enrolled at secondary level then boys, and measures were being taken to equalise the figures.

No steps were being taken to address the rights of same-sex unions, including those established outside of Jamaica. The police were regularly trained to uphold the rights of the citizens as decreed under Jamaican law.

An investigation was still being conducted into the events in West Kingston, and the following State of Emergency in May 2010. There was no time frame for that process to be completed. When it did conclude, the report would be submitted to the Attorney General for review. The Coroner’s inquest had not yet been completed. Investigations continued into the killings of 2009.

Returning to the death penalty moratorium, the delegation said that Jamaica had not executed anyone since 1988. The decision to commute death sentences to life imprisonment was taken by a committee headed by the Attorney General. Inmates on death row as a matter of course had their death sentence reduced to life imprisonment after five years, as five years on death row was considered to be cruel and inhuman punishment.

The Government was addressing areas where flogging – corporal punishment - remained. There was no specific legislation on the offence of torture. As to a definition of torture, in Jamaica torture was treated via specific legislation on acts that constituted the means of torture. Therefore there was no definition, per se, of torture. The Government was currently considering signing the Convention on Torture.

Questions by Committee Members

How did the amendment of Article 13 (8) in the Jamaican Constitution operate? Could it operate retrospectively, meaning that anyone sentenced to death before the charter came into force in April 2011 would benefit from the Pratt and Morgan case law? Would anyone who did benefit, and had their sentence commuted after five years, then be taken off death row?

The part of the Constitution specifying male or female only came into force in April 2011, but what happened to a person who was neither male nor female, who had indeterminate sex – would such a person be a non-person in the eyes of the law? What measures were being taken to reduce homophobia and encourage respect of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, specifically in the mass media?

Corporal punishment was prohibited in public childcare facilities, but was it therefore allowed in private childcare facilities? What measures would the State party take to prohibit corporal punishment at all levels?

What action was the State party taking to ensure officers being investigated for ill treatment were removed from duty until such investigations were completed?

What steps was the State party taking to curb the high levels of domestic violence and to ensure the Domestic Violence Act was effectively enforced on the ground? The Government had committed to increase the number of shelters for victims of domestic violence, but information showed that only one shelter existed in Jamaica. What efforts was the Government making to help victims of domestic violence? What action was being taken to ensure all law enforcement personnel and judiciary were trained and sensitized on domestic violence?

What was the Government doing to curb the practice of trafficking of persons? Furthermore refugees did not receive any documents, which created obstacles for them to receive their rights. There was no appeals mechanism for asylum seekers.

A Committee Expert voiced concern about the report of Amnesty International on the state of emergency in May 2010, which detailed three persons taken into custody at that time who later disappeared. Reports say the body of one of those men later was found: did the delegation have any information on what seemed to be an extrajudicial killing?

Were the Maroons seeing a better enjoyment of the rights in Jamaica, did the delegation have any additional information in that regard?

Non-governmental organizations had shown concern over the Child Protection Act of 1994 provision of ‘uncontrollable’ which could place children in a custodial position where they were at risk of abuse. Could there be more information on that?

Regarding the Armadale Enquiry in which seven girls at a juvenile correction centre were burnt to death in a fire, the Committee noted that the Government shouldered full responsibility for the incident. What was not clear was when an indictment against those responsible could be expected, and how the compensation would be paid to the families of the girls.

Other sources had informed that while abortion was illegal, it was possible to pay for a safe abortion in a private medical clinic. That meant that only women who could afford to pay could access a safe abortion, which was a worrying state of affairs.

Response from the Delegation

The application of case law would not change a judgement or ruling after they had been taken. Persons who were on death row and had their sentence commuted were no longer on death row and would move into the custody of the prisons as life-sentenced convicts.

The use of ‘male’ and ‘female’ in the Constitution just had plain meaning; it was not the delegate’s understanding that any further interpretation could be made.

Although Jamaica did not have domestic legislation on the protection of refugees or for granting of asylum under international legislation, the Government had taken an important step to strengthen the ad hoc framework with the adoption of a National Refugee Policy in 2009. That policy provided for a Refugee Appeal Mechanism for persons whose refugee status had been denied. Jamaica was now one of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) countries that issued travel documents to recognized refugees, which included an ID number for the holder and other formal details.

Affirmative steps had been taken to prevent the use of flogging at all levels and in schools. However the Government would need legislation to give that full effect. If private facilities were undertaking corporal punishment then it would appear that they remained legal, even though it was discouraged.

Regarding compensation for persons making claims against the State, the delegation said it would provide the lengthy document which detailed the process to the Committee.

An officer whose conduct was subject of an investigation would be removed from frontline duty. The delegation would further research that and provide additional information.

As the data provided showed, there were overcrowding problems in prisons, and the Government policy to solve that issue was to build a new prison. However while financial restraints had prevented the Government from proceeding with that, there were short-term measures to improve prison conditions and to renovate and improve cells and prison facilities.

The enquiry into the Armadale fire was ongoing, making it difficult to give the Committee a timeline. There was data on the level of compensation provided to the families of the Armadale victims, which were not a consequence of the criminal proceedings, which still continued as a result of the Government’s unequivocal acceptance of liability.

The Government was tackling the backlog of legal cases by recruiting more judges, improving case management and establishing a branch of the Supreme Court in Western Jamaica to ensure instruments of justice were more accessible by all persons of the community. There were also efforts to train the Justices of the Peace, and improve provision of quality legal aid, for instance by expanding the pool of legal aid lawyers.

The victim support unit for domestic violence victims had a presence in every area of Jamaica. Supplementary information on the persons served by, and resources of, the one crisis centre in Jamaica for domestic violence victims would be provided at a later date.

Persons of Maroon origin had presence in political life and could stand for election; the State had no particular cause to address Maroon participation in public life.

Pregnancies could be aborted if the life and safety of a woman was under threat. There was no ruling for abortion in cases of pregnancy resulting from rape.

The definition of ‘uncontrollable’ relating to children was one the delegation would seek from the judiciary, as well as guidance to how the matter of ‘uncontrollable’ would be treated. In a common law system the judges had to interpret the law, so it was difficult to bring precision to the term in Jamaica.

In Jamaica torture was treated via specific legislation on acts that constituted the means of torture. Therefore there was no definition, per se, of torture.

Closing remarks

In concluding remarks, WAYNE McCOOK, Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the United Nations Office at Geneva, first thanked members of his delegation who had been working on the report from Kingston, Jamaica, and who had been providing additional responses to the delegation in real-time. Ambassador Cook was surprised to hear the Committee held his delegation to be indicative of an inadequate response to promoting and protecting human rights in Jamaica. As a small developing country which had implemented cost-cutting measures, including travel expenses, the Government used resident Missions to their fullest, as in Geneva. The answers the Committee sought were from the Government, which the delegation was authorized to give. Fiscal authorities prevented fuller representation at the Committee today, and the Secretariat was aware that the delegation had explored options of a video link in order to allow colleagues in Kingston to join the Committee. No delegation was empowered to change policy, and answers given were about those already set in law.

In preliminary concluding remarks ZONKE ZANELE MAJODINA, Chairperson of the Committee, thanked the Government of Jamaica for submitting their third periodic report and the list of issues they had sent beforehand, and thanked the delegation for their oral responses, which were clear, unambiguous and informative. Nevertheless Ms. Majodina reiterated that the absence of representatives from Kingston was regrettable, although that was no reflection on the expertise of Ambassador Cook, the Head of the Delegation. The presence of officials from capital was desirable in order for them to engage with the Committee members to improve the situation of human rights in Jamaica. The Charter for Human Rights was a positive development, although it included provisions not in line with the Covenant. Another positive development was the curbing of unauthorized powers by law enforcement officials. Discrimination appeared to be at the root of many human rights violations in Jamaica, and that should be addressed not only in policy, but in practice. Another area of concern was that of extrajudicial killings and the lack of investigation into those, which encouraged a situation of impunity. Child rights were also a concern. The Committee noted that Jamaica did not intend to ratify the Second Optional Protocol of the Convention, and urged the State party to reconsider ratification, and to enforce the moratorium on the death penalty.

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