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Jamaica

Overview and Key facts:

Capital: Kingston

Land Area: 22,966 sq km

Head of Government: Prime Minister Bruce Golding (Since September 2007)

Population: 2,714,000 (2007)

Major Languages: English, patois English

Major Religion(s): Protestant 61.3% (Church of God 21.2%, Baptist 8.8%, Anglican 5.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 9%, Pentecostal 7.6%, Methodist 2.7%, United Church 2.7%, Brethren 1.1%, Jehovah's Witness 1.6%, Moravian 1.1%), Roman Catholic 4%, other, including some spiritual cults 34.7%

Date of Joining: 1962

Status of FOI Legislation:

The FOI Act was passed in June 2002 and became effective in 2003. The Act will provide a general right to access to official government information which would otherwise be inaccessible. Certain information will however not be disclosed in order to protect essential public interests and private rights. The Access to Information unit has been established to spearhead and guide the implementation and administration of Access to Information act.

Status of National Human Rights Institutions:

Office of the Public Defender. No specific human rights mandate.

News Updates:

Security Operation results in over 70 dead: On 29 May Caribbean Net reported that Jamaica's leader faced growing criticism over a nearly week-long assault on a slum to capture a powerful drug don as decomposing bodies of civilians lay unclaimed for days.

The operation has left 73 civilians dead by official count and has divided the island, with many Jamaicans hailing what they see as a chance to fight rampant crime but some alarmed at the heavy humanitarian price.

An overpowering stench of death hung over a cemetery in the capital Kingston, where more than a dozen bodies were left in simple wooden coffins. Flies hovered over one, from which an exposed leg stuck out.

Faced with rising allegations of abuse, the military and police went on the offensive, portraying residents of the destitute Tivoli Gardens area almost as an insurgent force that had hidden explosives and girded for heavy combat.
http://www.caribbeannetnews.com/jamaica/jamaica.php?news_id=23386&start=0&category_id=9

Jamaica PM calls for more power to police to dismiss officers implicated in criminal activities

On 6 June 2009 Caribbean Net News reported that Jamaica's Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, wants to give the commissioner of police the authority to dismiss police officers found to be involved in criminal activities. Furthermore, the PM stated that the government and the opposition are reviewing the Constabulary Force Act.

Jamaica: On 28 May 2009 Caribbean Net News reported that, the Jamaican Prime Minister, Mr Bruce Golding, explained at a conference on restorative and community justice that a high number of and backlog of cases were putting strain on Jamaica's justice system. Golding also expressed his support for the conference which brings together international and local partners including Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to develop restorative and community justice approaches.

Jamaica: On March 16 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reported that the Jamaica Court of Appeal has suggested amendments to the Jamaican constitution.

Jamaica: On 2 March 2009 'Caribbean Net News' reported that a Jamaican court ruling over a by-election may have an impact throughout the Commonwealth countries for future elections in their House of Representatives.

Jamaica: On 17 October 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that more that four hundred senior lawyers, judges and chief justices have met in Jamaica to mark the twenty fifth Conference of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association which will also mark the silver jubilee of the organisation.

Jamaica: On 10 October 2008 'Caribbean Net News' reported that the Jamaican Government will set up a task force to examine ways in which children could be protected from high rates of sexual abuse and violence. According to statistics 398 children have been murdered in Jamaica since 2003.

Jamaica: On 26 September 2008 'Caribbean net News' reported that Jamaica has signed the convention on the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families.

Jamaica: On July 31, 2008, Caribbean News Net reported that Senator Arthur Williams, Minister of State in the Ministry of National Security, has encouraged the notion of community policing in Jamaica and emphasized the important impact it could have on the increase of violent crime in the country.

Jamaica: On 12 July 2008, Caribbean Net News reported that Jamaica to implement new and stricter crime fighting measures. It was stated that Prime Minister Bruce Golding was speaking on Tuesday at a meeting at Jamaica House with representatives of several government agencies and international development partners on issues of security, crime and violence. The meeting was called to discuss and garner support to deal with national security policies.

Commonwealth/Jamaica: On 21 June 2008, Caribbean Net News reported that 33 police officers from Commonwealth Caribbean countries will participate in a Commonwealth human rights training workshop in Jamaica, from 23 to 27 June 2008. It is aimed at increasing the awareness of and respect for human rights in policing. This workshop has already been conducted at a regional level in various Commonwealth countries in the Pacific and Africa over the past four years.

Jamaica: On 27 February "Caribbean Net News" reported that the Press Association of Jamaica welcomed the government's initiative to reform the country's colonial libel laws. The current laws, it is reported, discourage investigative journalism. It has been indicated that reform would strengthen the media's role of checking the government and administrative services.

Jamaica: On 4 February the gay news service "Pinknews" reported that in a homophobic attack against gay men in the town of Mandeville, one man got missing after being hunted by a mob while two other gay men targeted in the incident had to be hospitalised. The police was reportedly slow to intervene. This comes in the background of repeated and consistent violence and hostility against homosexuals in Jamaica, in which the police either is part or remains inactive. In Jamaica, sex between men is a punishable crime with up to ten years in jail.

Jamaica: On 5 September 2007 the online news service "Caribbean Net News" reported that the ruling People's National Party has conceded defeat in the closest national election held in Jamaica for decades. The concession clears the way for the opposition Jamaican Labour Party to assume control of the government after it reportedly won 32 of the seats in Jamaica's 60-seat parliament. The report indicates that Jamaica's next Prime Minister, Labour leader Bruce Golding, is set to take over from Portia Simpson Miller, the country's first female Prime Minister. On the same day in a different report, "Caribbean News Net" reported that observers from the Organization of American States praised the election as having been carried out in a "professional and transparent manner". (05/09/07)

Jamaica: On 13 June 2007 the newspaper 'The Jamaica Gleaner' reported that Justice Minister A.J. Nicholson said that justice system reform plans will be in the hands of the Cabinet by the end of the month. So far there are 183 recommendations from a national task force established by the Government. The task force includes outgoing Chief Justice Lensley Wolfe, representatives of the Public Sector Reform Unit, the Ministry of Finance and Planning and the Planning Institute of Jamaica. The Canadian Bar Association is also helping with the project. Reforms cited in the report include increasing the authority of resident magistrates and the computerisation of certain offices. (13/06/07)

Jamaica: On 26 May 2007, Reuters reported that Jamaican Muslim Cleric was deported from the UK after serving a sentence to incite the murder of Americans, Hindus and Jews in his sermons. It was further reported that UK authorities believed that his sermons had inspired at least one of the July 2005 suicide bombers, who had attacked London transport system. (26/05/07)

 
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