Annual Report: Jamaica 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Jamaica 2010

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Justice system

According to the Minister of Justice, by early November the implementation had begun of over 70 of the 200 recommendations to reform the justice system made by the Justice System Reform Task Force. A bill creating a special coroner's office to expedite investigations into new cases of fatal police shootings was passed by Parliament but the office had not been established by the end of the year.

More than a year and a half after it was tabled in Parliament, a bill establishing a special prosecutor to investigate corruption by state officials had still not been adopted.

Violence against women and girls

A study on the relationship between adolescent pregnancy and sexual violence carried out by health care researchers showed that 49 per cent of the 750 girls aged between 15 and 17 surveyed had experienced sexual coercion or violence. The study highlighted the need to address gender-based violence at community level.

In July, the Sexual Offences Act, which reforms and incorporates various laws relating to rape, incest and other sexual offences, was passed by Parliament. Although women's organizations welcomed the Act, they also expressed concerns about the restrictive definition of rape. The Act criminalizes rape within marriage, but only in certain circumstances.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

During a parliamentary debate, a member of Parliament questioned the right of gay men and lesbians to form organizations and demanded life imprisonment for homosexual acts. The Prime Minister, while distancing himself from these comments, made it clear that his government would not repeal the crime of buggery, which is currently punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment.

Death penalty

Two death sentences were handed down in 2009; no executions were carried out. There were four people on death row at the end of the year. In July the Prime Minister declared that the government would honour Parliament's decision in 2008 to retain the death penalty by resuming executions as soon as the appeal avenues available to death row prisoners were exhausted.

Amnesty International visit/report

Amnesty International delegates visited Jamaica in February.

Public security reforms and human rights in Jamaica (21 July 2009)