Ja said to violate civil, political rights convention
WHEN JAMAICAN officials appear for the fourth Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the 118th session of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which gets underway in Geneva next week, they will be hard-pressed to give account for several violations of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights.
Shadow reports submitted to the committee by a coalition of human rights groups in Jamaica, with the assistance of the Centre for International Human Rights at the Northwestern Pritzker School of Law, have outlined a number of violations in regard to the incarceration of children considered beyond parental control and treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people (LGBT) in Jamaica. These are highlighted in the pre-published list of issues to which the Government will be asked to respond during the UPR.
The shadow report concerning violations in regard to the incarceration of children considered beyond parental control argued that the practice constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of children’s liberty, in violation of Article 9 of the Convention, which states that no one should be deprived of their liberty on grounds other than those established by law.
According to the authors of the shadow report, Section 24 of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA), under which children are remanded for uncontrollable behaviour, does not provide sufficient legal basis for the correctional orders issued by the courts.
“The CCPA fails to provide any specification whatsoever of the conduct on which a judge may rely to determine that a child is beyond parental control. Jamaican child rights advocates have stated bluntly that there exists no definition of uncontrollable,” the report said.
The report further argued that the practice was discriminatory as it does not provide equal treatment under the law for both children and adults. Pointing to the fact that only children are remanded for uncontrollable behaviour, the report said that “Section 24 of the CCPA violates the Article 2(1) and 26 guarantees of non-discrimination and equality,” by allowing the incarceration of children for conduct that would not lead to incarceration if committed by an adult.
“The proceedings that lead to a Section 24 correctional order deprive the child of the most basic fair trial guarantees and thus violate Jamaica’s obligations under Covenant Article 14. In particular, children appearing in these proceedings generally have not been represented by counsel, and they generally have not had a reasonable opportunity to be heard in their own defence,” the report added.
The authors of the report further noted that Jamaica’s incarceration of children for being beyond parental control violates their rights for special measures of protection as outlined in Article 24 and 14(4) of the convention.
As it regard human rights violations against LGBT people, a separate shadow report submitted on this issue noted that Jamaica is in violation of the convention because the Government “has not done enough to prevent, prosecute and punish violent attacks, including mob violence and sexual assault against LGBT individuals, and including cases where the police themselves have stood by or been the perpetrators”.
The report added that “Jamaica has not taken sufficient measures to respect and ensure the rights of individuals to equality and nondiscrimination, regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity”.