Ja said to vi­o­late civil, po­lit­i­cal rights con­ven­tion

Jamaica Gleaner - - SPORTS - An­dre Poyser Staff Re­porter an­dre.poyser@glean­erjm.com

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.

DIS­CRIM­I­NA­TORY PRAC­TICE

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”.

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