- Jamaica welcomes the opportunity to join the international community in the commemoration of Human Rights Day under the theme ‘Human Rights 365’.
- The theme this year serves as a potent reminder that the observance of human rights is not only a 10th December event, but rather a daily preoccupation of the Government and People of Jamaica.
- The promotion and protection of human rights remain a fundamental priority of the Government of Jamaica.
INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
10th December 2014
Jamaica welcomes the opportunity to join the international community in the commemoration of Human Rights Day under the theme ‘Human Rights 365’. The theme this year serves as a potent reminder that the observance of human rights is not only a 10th December event, but rather a daily preoccupation of the Government and People of Jamaica.
The promotion and protection of human rights remain a fundamental priority of the Government of Jamaica, evidenced by its ratification of most of the core international human rights instruments, including the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). This has paved the way over the years, for the establishment of a robust network of institutions which deal with various aspects of human rights, including the Office of the Public Defender, the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) and the Office of the Children’s Advocate.
While the Government is pleased with the tremendous progress achieved, we acknowledge that there is room for improvement. We continue to explore ways in which to enhance the protection of the human rights of our citizens and improve their daily lives. We are seeking to enhance the institutional framework for the provision of oversight in relation to Jamaica’s human rights machinery. A process is currently underway to review several key pieces of domestic legislation, including the Sexual Offences Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act.
The Government of Jamaica continues to pay special attention to the most vulnerable among us. In October 2014, the Jamaican Parliament approved the Disabilities Act, which builds on our National Policy for Persons with Disabilities, approved by Parliament in 2000. It is anticipated that the Act will guarantee the protection of the rights of persons with disabilities and their inclusion in areas of national development. As part of our social protection system, the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), introduced in 2002, remains one of the key initiatives being undertaken to protect the most vulnerable groups through the provision of cash benefits and economic opportunities, including skills training and access to employment, so as to improve their quality of life.
The Government of Jamaica has enjoyed a longstanding partnership with the United Nations system, not only in the advancement of the national development agenda, but also in relation to the promotion of human rights. The Government remains committed to engaging with the international community in this regard. Preparations are currently underway to submit Jamaica’s report to the UN Human Rights Committee on the implementation of Jamaica’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.
The underlying message behind the theme, Human Rights 365, is that the protection of human rights is not the sole prerogative of the Government. Indeed, it is everyone’s business. We have witnessed the emergence of myriad voices in defence of human rights, drawn from various spheres, including academia, the arts and sports. Our own national sports icons have been making their mark in this area. The Honourable Usain Bolt, OJ was selected as an international spokesperson for the ‘My voice, my right: My voice counts’ campaign which was launched on Human Rights Day in 2012 while Mrs. Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador by UNICEF in 2010, lending her voice in the global advocacy for the rights of children.
The protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms is not a destination; it is a journey. It is not a sprint, but a marathon. May Human Rights Day 2014 become a platform for every Jamaican to re-commit to the tenets of our national pledge, to ‘stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace’. The Government of Jamaica will, for its part, continue to protect ‘the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights’ of its citizens, thus strengthening the ‘foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’.