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JIS News

Story Highlights

  • In preparation for the establishment the National Human Rights Institute in Jamaica, a series of consultations will be hosted islandwide, beginning in St. James on July 23.
  • The Government has been working on establishing the Institute since May 2014 with technical support from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
  • It will complement the existing network of institutions that are mandated to protect the rights of nationals.

In preparation for the establishment the National Human Rights Institute in Jamaica, a series of consultations will be hosted islandwide, beginning in St. James on July 23.

The Government has been working on establishing the Institute since May 2014 with technical support from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). It will complement the existing network of institutions that are mandated to protect the rights of nationals.

In an interview with JIS News, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Justice, Mrs. Carol Palmer, said that the input of the citizens will assist with the development and finalization of the policy for the establishment of the Institute.

“Cabinet has already approved (in principle) the expansion of the functions of the Office of the Public Defender to be that institute. It will require amendments (to the Public Defender (Interim) Act) or new legislation to expand the statutory authority of the Public Defender’s Office,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary outlined that this decision is a strategic one, given Jamaica’s fiscal reality.

“We cannot go ahead setting up new entities at more cost to the State…there are other small states within the Commonwealth that has taken this approach,” she said.

The Permanent Secretary noted that the Ministry has completed mapping of the human rights functions carried out in state entities, noting that an analysis is now required to identify gaps between what is being done and what needs to be done.

Mrs. Palmer explained that once the gaps are identified, the OPD will be strengthened accordingly.

She extended an invitation to residents of St. Ann, Trelawny, St. James, Hanover and Westmoreland to participate, noting that in total there will be four consultations in  Manchester, Portland and the Corporate Area (to service St. Catherine, and Kingston and St. Andrew).

The St. James consultation will be hosted at the Montego Bay Community College (Lecture Theatre) beginning at 4:30 pm.

Sessions will be facilitated by the Ministries of Justice, Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, OPD, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The National Human Rights Institute is expected to be launched on International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2015.