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II. Recommendations

To the Jamaican government

Reform the law enforcement system

Police Conduct

  • Ensure that all allegations of excessive force and other human rights abuses by law enforcement officials against HIV/AIDS workers, sexual minorities, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS are investigated promptly and thoroughly by a body independent of those alleged to be responsible and which has the necessary powers and resources to fully investigate offences by state agents.  Sanction officials who engage in or condone abuse.

  • Cease and publicly repudiate all violence and harassment by police and other agents of the state against men who have sex with men, women who have sex with women, sex workers, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

  • Train all criminal justice officials in international human rights standards and nondiscrimination, including issues of sexuality, sexual orientation, and HIV/AIDS.  Ensure that such training is fully integrated into training programs provided to all ranks, and not treated as an additional class separated from the full curriculum of training.  Ensure that police at all levels are trained on the fundamentals of HIV transmission and care for people living with HIV/AIDS and on the importance of the lifesaving efforts of HIV/AIDS outreach workers. 

    Law Reform

  • Repeal sections 76, 77, and 79 of the Offences against the Person Act, which criminalize sex between consenting adult men and are used as justification for harassment of men who have sex with men and of HIV/AIDS educators working with them.

  • Adopt legislation to protect the rights of people living with HIV/AIDS, including legislation to proscribe discrimination against them.

  • Repeal section 80 of the Offences against the Person Act and section 4 of the Towns and Communities Act, which grant broad latitude for arrest and detention without a warrant or an order from a magistrate, and replace them with clear, strict limitations on situations in which an arrest without warrant is permissible, such as when a crime is occurring or about to occur. 

  • Include “sexual orientation and gender identity” and “sex” in the anti-discrimination clause of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms proposed as amendments to the Jamaican Constitution.

  • Invite international scrutiny of protections against torture and ill-treatment by:

  • Ratifying the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, the Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to the U.N. Convention against Torture, and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women.

  • Making the necessary declaration under article 22 of the U.N. Convention against Torture to enable the U.N. Committee against Torture to consider complaints submitted to it.

  • Including information on the treatment of HIV/AIDS workers and members of high-risk groups (men who have sex with men, sex workers) in future periodic reports to human rights treaty bodies established for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (overdue as of July 11, 2001) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

    Enhance the national effort against HIV/AIDS

  • Ensure that high-level political leaders, including the prime minister and all other cabinet officials, take a leadership role in campaigns focusing on improving human rights protections and reducing stigma and discrimination against people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS.  National and parish-level governments should work with the media and nongovernmental organizations to disseminate this information in a manner that is accessible to people with limited literacy skills.

  • Ensure that the national HIV/AIDS program, in consultation with the Ministry of National Security and the Jamaican Constabulary Force, develops and implements a formal plan for a budgeted program of monitoring of and regular public reporting on violence and abuse against marginalized groups at high risk of HIV/AIDS. 

  • Government officials at all levels should use public events and contacts with the media to condemn police violence against HIV/AIDS workers; should affirm international standards relating to equality, including nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and HIV status; and should reiterate the importance of human rights protections for all groups vulnerable to HIV/AIDS, including men who have sex with men and sex workers.  The Ministry of Health’s stated position, articulated in national policy documents, on the importance of protecting marginalized groups against stigma and discrimination should be emphasized in public events and media.

  • Provide training on HIV/AIDS, sexuality, and sexual orientation to all personnel in health care facilities, including instruction on the right to privacy and protection of confidential information about HIV status and specific guidance on how to guard against negligent and intentional disclosure.  Ensure that appropriate and accessible legal remedies are available to individuals whose privacy has been infringed or who have experienced discrimination or harassment in the health system based on HIV status.   

  • Establish an effective and independent oversight and complaint mechanism to ensure the proper implementation of health policies and norms relating to HIV/AIDS, including protection of confidential and private information.  Investigate and sanction all health personnel who disclose confidential information without authorization.

    To Donors and International Organizations

  • Condemn the criminalization of consensual homosexual conduct and support the repeal of sections 76, 77, and 79 as a violation of the prohibition against discrimination based on sexual orientation and as an impediment to the national response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  The repeal of sections 76, 77, and 79 is consistent with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights, and the United Nations International Guidelines on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights.

  • As part of monitoring compliance with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the U.N. Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights should report on Jamaica’s efforts to ensure provision of HIV/AIDS information and services on a nondiscriminatory basis and to guarantee the confidentiality of information about HIV status.

  • Ensure that monitoring of police harassment of HIV/AIDS outreach workers and of people suspected of homosexual conduct, and related human rights abuses are an important and regular part of monitoring programs supporting police reform and HIV/AIDS efforts in Jamaica.  Accelerate surveillance and monitoring of NGO reports of police violence through the United Nations supported monitoring system and other means, and ensure widespread public reporting of data collected on this subject.

  • Support the development of organizations among members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, and among sex workers, to strengthen the capacity of these persons to advocate for the protection of their rights in institutional fora. 

  • Promote ratification of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women.

    <<previous  |  index  |  next>>November 2004