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TITLE:  JAMAICA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                            JAMAICA


Jamaica is a constitutional parliamentary democracy and a 
member of the Commonwealth of Nations.  An appointed Governor 
General represents the Queen as Head of State.  The elected 
Prime Minister is the Head of Government.  An elected lower 
house and an appointed upper house comprise Parliament.  Two 
political parties have alternated in power since the first 
elections under universal adult suffrage in 1944.  The last 
general election, held in March 1993, was marred by political 
violence and fraud.

The security forces consist of the Jamaica Constabulary Force 
(JCF--police), the Island Special Constabulary Force 
(ISCF--auxiliary police), and the Jamaica Defence Force 
(JDF--army, air wing, and coast guard).  The JCF continued to 
be responsible for serious human rights abuses and political 
partisanship.  The JDF has been responsible for some abuses, 
albeit fewer than the JCF.

The economy is based on primary products (bauxite and alumina, 
sugar, bananas), services (tourism, finance), and light 
manufacturing (garment assembly).  The Government has promoted 
private investment to stimulate economic growth and 
modernization, pursuing in the process a sometimes painful 
program of structural adjustment.  As a result of concentrating 
economic policy on maintaining a stable rate of exchange with 
the U.S. dollar, interest rates were high and economic growth 
suffered.

Among Jamaica's principal human rights abuses, there are 
allegations that police and prison guards commit summary 
executions and other extrajudicial killings and beatings, often 
with impunity.  Other abuses included violence against women, 
including attacks by police; warrantless searches; indefinite 
detention; brutality against detainees; and vigilantism.  
Conditions in Jamaican jails and prisons remain poor, with 
serious overcrowding, awful sanitary conditions, and inadequate 
diet the norm.  An inefficient and overburdened judiciary was 
responsible for lengthy delays in trials, sentencing, and 
appeals.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There continued to be credible reports that the JCF engaged in 
the summary execution of suspects under the guise of 
"shootouts."  Local media accounts disputing JCF claims of 
shootouts continued to appear in 1994, albeit with less 
frequency than in previous years.  JCF statistics have shown a 
continuous pattern in recent years wherein persons shot and 
killed by the JCF outnumbered those shot but only wounded.

The authorities charged a JCF officer with capital murder in 
the July 1993 killings of Alfredo Bell and Leroy Chin at Nuttal 
private hospital, but he has yet to be tried.  Authorities also 
brought charges against a JDF lieutenant and a corporal for 
killing a policeman guarding a candidate for Parliament in 
1993.  The lieutenant has since died of natural causes.  The 
trial of the corporal was postponed until 1995.  The JCF Office 
of Internal Affairs continues to take disciplinary action 
against other abusive officers.

The Jamaica Council for Human Rights (JCHR) received fewer 
complaints about police abuses in 1994 than in 1993.  However, 
police officers continued to enjoy apparent impunity for 
extrajudicial killings.  For example, the courts freed in 1994 
five police officers charged with the October 1992 deaths of 
three men in Constant Spring jail when the judge found them not 
guilty of manslaughter.  (The deaths were the result of 
confining 19 men--arrested in a police sweep but never charged--
in a nearly airless cell for 2 days.)  The Supreme Court 
subsequently awarded damages to 1 of the 16 survivors in a 
lawsuit which the Attorney General did not contest.  The other 
15 also have lawsuits pending.

Vigilantism, involving spontaneous mob executions, occurred 
with some frequency in 1994.  In rural areas, the response to 
crimes such as animal theft was often the rapid formation of a 
local mob which beat, stoned, or "chopped" to death (with 
machetes) the alleged criminals.  Police rarely brought charges 
against vigilantes, and acquittals have been common in the few 
cases that do go to court.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of politically related abduction or 
disappearances perpetrated by the security forces or others.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The law prohibits torture and other abuse of prisoners and 
detainees.  Nonetheless, detainees and prisoners made numerous 
credible complaints that guards and security personnel beat 
them in local jails and prisons to obtain confessions.  The 
JCHR continued to document cases where prison personnel beat 
inmates in order to obtain confessions.

The Police Public Complaints Authority (PPCA), a nonpartisan 
civilian body which began operation in 1993, received hundreds 
of complaints in its first year of operation.  Most complaints 
charged excessive use of force or abuse of authority by 
police.  At year's end, however, the authorities had not 
brought any charges against JCF personnel for matters arising 
from complaints to the PPCA.

In the case of a police instructor who allegedly raped a young 
female recruit in 1993, the woman subsequently refused to 
testify against him.  The judge directed a verdict of not 
guilty but recommended that the instructor resign from the JCF.

Conditions in maximum security prisons and police jails 
remained abysmal.  Sanitary conditions were dangerously 
inadequate, food insufficent, and overcrowding the rule.  
Prisoners often have to resort to buying their own food or 
medicine, or having relatives bring it to them.  At the general 
penitentiary in Kingston, authorities imprison up to six men in 
the 7- by 10-foot cells in the remand section, in near-total 
darkness, for 16 to 20 hours a day.  The Inter-American 
Commission on Human Rights found that while some of Jamaica's 
prisons appear to meet international standards, others do not.  
A Human Rights Watch/Americas report was highly critical of the 
treatment of children in the prison system.

At his discretion, a judge may impose both whipping (with a 
tamarind switch) and flogging (with a cat o'nine tails) as 
punishment in criminal cases.  A judge sentenced a Kingston man 
who paralyzed a woman with an ice pick to be whipped and 
jailed.  This aroused considerable public debate on corporal 
punishment.  Following the first flogging sentence, other 
judges sentenced several more criminals to be flogged.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Parliament repealed the Suppression of Crimes Act (SOCA) of 
1974, which permitted warrantless searches and the arrest of 
persons "reasonably suspected" of having committed a crime.  
The Jamaica Constabulary Force Act, however, now contains 
several of these provisions.

The authorities regularly detained suspects without a warrant, 
particularly in poor neighborhoods.  The law requires a court 
appearance within 48 hours of detention, but the authorities 
often held detainees for several weeks without bringing them 
before a judge or magistrate.  However, the JCHR tallied fewer 
complaints of illegal detention in 1994 than in previous 
years.  There is a functioning bail system for Jamaicans; 
foreign detainees, however, are regularly denied bail.

The Constitution provides immunity from expulsion from the 
country, or exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

There is a well-established right to counsel for persons 
charged with criminal offenses; indigents, however, must have 
been accused of a "serious offense" (e.g., murder, rape, 
robbery, gun offenses) to qualify for court-appointed counsel.  
However, the law does not consider many offenses, including 
wounding with intent to cause great bodily harm, as "serious," 
and courts thus convict many defendants without benefit of 
counsel.

The judicial system, although independent, is overburdened and 
operates with inadequate resources.  Budgetary shortfalls have 
resulted in a steady attrition of trained personnel, causing 
further delays.  Many cases take years to come to trial, and 
others were dismissed because case files could not be located.

The court of appeal and the Parliament may refer cases to the 
judicial committee of the Privy Council in the United Kingdom.  
In September Prime Minister Patterson called for abolition of 
appeals to the Privy Council and creation of a Caribbean Court 
of Appeals.  Opposition leader Seaga and some human rights 
organizations immediately opposed this proposal.

There were no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary intrusion by the State 
into the private life of the individual.  The revised Jamaica 
Constabulary Force Act, however, continues to give security 
personnel the sort of broad powers of search and seizure which 
were consistently abused under the Suppression of Crimes Act.  
Although the use of telephone taps without a court order is 
officially limited to cases involving the drug trade, 
terrorism, and subversion of the Government, politicians, trade 
union officials, and local journalists have charged that the 
authorities were tapping their telephones in recent years.  The 
accused authorities did not respond to these charges.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press, and 
the Government respects these rights in practice, within the 
broad limits of libel laws and the Official Secrets Act.

The Jamaica Broadcasting Company, largely deregulated in 1988, 
operates two radio stations and one of the island's two 
television stations.  The Government's broadcasting commission 
has the right to regulate programming during emergencies.  
Foreign television transmissions are unregulated and available 
to tens of thousands of Jamaicans through satellite antennas.  
The four largest newspapers, all privately owned, regularly 
report on human rights abuses, particularly those involving the 
JCF.  Foreign publications are widely available.

There were no reports of censorship or interference in academic 
institutions.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution provides for freedom of assembly and 
association.  The police routinely grant without favoritism the 
permits required for political parties to stage public 
rallies.  Large numbers and varieties of professional, 
business, service, social, and cultural associations function 
freely.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is well established in law and practice.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides Jamaican citizens freedom of movement 
and the authorities respect these provisions.

The authorities adjudicate applications for refugee status on a 
case-by-case basis.  In coordination with the local office of 
the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Government 
has processed more than 80 Haitian boat people.  The Government 
was considering applications from approximately 60 Cuban asylum 
seekers, also in coordination with the UNHCR.  The Government 
had not made a decision on the refugee status of either the 
Haitians or the Cubans at year's end.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Jamaicans have, and freely exercise, the right to change their 
government.  All citizens aged 18 and over have the right to 
vote by secret ballot.  Two political parties have alternated 
in power since the first elections under universal adult 
suffrage in 1944.  The People's National Party (PNP) holds 52 
of the 60 seats in the House of Representatives.  The 
opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), last in power from 1980 
to 1989, holds the remaining 8 seats.  The JLP boycotted both 
by-elections in 1994, charging that needed electoral reform was 
not in place.  Two small-party candidates contested the April 
election which the PNP candidate won overwhelmingly.   One 
small-party candidate contested the August election, which was 
marked by very low voter turnout, and the PNP candidate again 
won.  The newly appointed head of the electoral office 
dismissed allegations of fraud in the August election as 
unfounded.

There are no legal limits on the participation of women in 
politics; in practice, women constitute a small minority of 
national parliamentarians and an only slightly higher 
proportion of local representatives.  In May Senator Maxine 
Henry-Wilson became the first woman in either party to hold the 
post of general secretary when she was elected to the post by 
the leadership of the ruling PNP.  The Minister of Labor and 
Welfare is a woman, as is the mayor of Kingston.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

There are no restrictions on human rights organizations.  The 
JCHR, the country's only formal human rights organization, has 
vigorously protested abuses by the police.  Its work has been 
hampered, however, by a lack of adequate resources.  There was 
no official followup on the August 1992 break-in and fire at 
the JCHR headquarters, which left the organization in a 
perilous financial position.

The Government of Jamaica has not attempted to hinder 
investigations by foreign and international human rights groups 
into alleged violations of human rights.  The Human Rights 
Watch Children's Rights Project noted in a report on children 
in police lockups that the Commissioner of Correctional 
Services and the Commissioner of Police were "especially 
cooperative" during the investigation.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of race, 
place of origin, political opinion, color, or creed.

     Women

The Constitution and the 1975 Employment Act theoretically 
accord women full equality.  In practice, however, they suffer 
from economic discrimination, sexual harassment in the 
workplace, and cultural and social traditions that promote 
violence against women.  According to statistics from the 
police sexual offenses unit, there has been an increase in 
reported cases of rape and other sexual assaults from 1,308 in 
1992 to 1,520 in 1993, and reported rapes for the first 
3 months of 1994 were 19 percent above the figures for the same 
period in 1993.  Women remain reluctant to press charges 
against their partners in cases of domestic violence when jail 
sentences are mandatory.  The Government, which promised 
legislation to introduce noncustodial sentencing, had not done 
so by the end of 1994.

     Children

The Juvenile Act of 1951 covers a number of aspects related to 
the protection of children, including prevention of cruelty, 
prohibition on causing or allowing juvenile begging, the power 
to bring juveniles in need of care or protection before a 
juvenile court, the treatment of juvenile offenders, the 
regulation and supervision of children's homes, and 
restrictions on employment of juveniles.  However, the Human 
Rights Watch report contends that the Government has not 
committed an adequate level of resources to enforce the Act.

     People with Disabilities

There are no laws mandating accessibility for people with 
disabilities.  Several government agencies and nongovernmental 
organizations provide services and employment to various groups 
of disabled Jamaicans.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The law provides for the right to form or join a trade union, 
and unions function freely and independently of the 
Government.  The Labor Relations and Industrial Disputes Act 
(LRIDA) defines worker rights.  There is a spectrum of national 
unions, some of which are affiliated with political parties.  
Approximately 15 percent of the work force is organized.

The LRIDA neither authorizes nor prohibits the right to strike, 
but strikes do occur.  Striking workers can interrupt work 
without criminal liability but cannot be assured of keeping 
their jobs.  Workers in 10 broad categories of "essential 
services" are prohibited from striking, a provision the 
International Labor Organization (ILO) has repeatedly condemned 
as overly inclusive.  No strikes were declared illegal in 1994.

Jamaican unions maintain a wide variety of regional and 
international affiliations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The Government rarely interferes with union organizing 
efforts.  Judicial and police authorities effectively enforce 
the LRIDA and other labor regulations.  All parties in Jamaica 
are firmly committed to collective bargaining in contract 
negotiations, even in some nonunion settings.  An independent 
Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) hears cases where management 
and labor fail to reach agreement.  Any cases not resolved by 
the IDT pass to the civil courts.  In 1994, however, the IDT 
was not able to resolve the large number of disputes before 
it.  The LRIDA prohibits antiunion discrimination:  for 
example, employees may not be fired solely for union 
membership.  The authorities enforced this law effectively.

Domestic labor laws apply equally to the "free zones" (export 
processing zones).  However, there are no unionized companies 
in any of the three zones, established in 1972, 1985, and 1988, 
which employ approximately 18,000 workers.  Organizers 
attribute this to resistance by foreign owners in the zones to 
organizing efforts.  Attempts to organize plants within the 
zones continue.  Company-controlled "workers' councils" handle 
grievance resolution at most free zone companies, but do not 
negotiate wages and conditions with management.  Management 
determines wages and benefits within the free zones; they are 
generally as good as or better than those in similar industries 
outside the zones.  The Ministry of Labor has not performed 
factory inspections in the free zones since 1992.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution does not specifically address the matter of 
forced or compulsory labor.  However, Jamaica is a party to 
both ILO conventions that prohibit compulsory labor, and there 
were no reports that this practice exists.

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The Juvenile Act provides that children under the age of 12 
shall not be employed except by parents or guardians, and that 
such employment may only be in domestic, agricultural, or 
horticultural work.  However, enforcement is erratic.  Children 
under 12 can be seen peddling goods or services on city 
streets, but there is no evidence of widespread illegal 
employment of children in other sectors of the economy.  The 
Educational Act stipulates that all children aged 6 to 11 must 
attend elementary school.  Industrial safety, police, and 
truant officers are charged with enforcement.  Under current 
economic circumstances, however, thousands of children are kept 
home to help with housework and avoid school fees.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The minimum wage, raised from $9.00 (J$ 300) to $15.00 (J$ 500) 
per week in 1994, is widely considered inadequate.  Most 
salaried workers are paid more than the legal minimum.  Work 
over 40 hours per week or 8 hours per day must be compensated 
at overtime rates, a provision that is widely observed.

The Labor Ministry's Industrial Safety Division is charged with 
setting and enforcing industrial health and safely standards, 
which are considered adequate.  Industrial accident rates, 
particularly in the bauxite/alumina industry, were once again 
low in 1994.  Public service staff reductions in the Ministries 
of Labor, Finance, National Security, and the Public Service 
have contributed to the difficulties in enforcing workplace 
regulations.  The law provides workers the right to remove 
themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to 
their continued employment if they are trade union members or 
covered by the Factories Act.  The law does not specifically 
protect other categories of workers in those circumstances.


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[end of document]

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