Jamaica government revokes charity status of top human rights group
Jamaica’s most prominent human rights organization has closed its legal department and laid off staff after losing its longstanding status as a charity, a leader of the group said.
Barry Wade, chairman of the Jamaicans for Justice, said the government rejected the watchdog group’s application to renew its charity status, forcing it to dramatically cut its operations and turn down certain grants from international donors. It now also faces some US$100,000 in back taxes.
Wade said Tuesday the denial came due to concerns about the group’s advocacy for legislative change, a reason he said is “puzzling.” He also asserts that the deci- sion is norms.”
The government’s Department of Cooperatives and Friendly Societies, which rejected the group’s renewal application, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Over the years, police officials have portrayed Jamaicans for Justice as being sympathetic to criminals and some politicians have accused it of trying to make the island look bad. But the group is widely respected among many.