Protection of Human Rights a Priority of Government


Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, has said that the preservation and protection of the human rights of Jamaicans, remains a priority of the Government.
“The relationship between citizen and human rights has been and continues to be a priority issue for the Government and so we share the view that the citizens of Jamaica must have the full protection of their rights and freedoms, pursuant to the Constitution of Jamaica and our international obligations,” Senator Lightbourne stated, as she addressed a public forum at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on Tuesday (Dec. 2).
Jamaica’s commitment to human rights, she said, is evidenced by the major international and regional conventions to which it has become party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; Convention on the Rights of the Child, and its Optional Protocol concerning children in armed conflict; and the American Convention on Human Rights.
According to the Justice Minister, Government is mindful of the need for increased training and awareness in the field of human rights, and a human rights module has been introduced into the various training programmes offered by the Justice Training Institute. “We intend to expand the mandate of the Institute so that it will train all persons in the justice system. Additionally, we intend to introduce and increase the number of seminars on human rights for the judiciary and the prosecutors to raise the level of awareness of the wide ambit of human rights issues in the society,” she stated.
As it relates to allegations of human rights violations committed by state agents, Senator Lightbourne said that the Government has taken several steps to ensure transparency and effectiveness in the investigative process, which are in keeping with a recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
In addition, she noted, a strategic review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has been conducted and “we are moving speedily to implement the recommendations, including improving resources, training and operations”.
Senator Lightbourne pledged the Government’s commitment to continue to work with human rights organisations and individuals, in order to raise awareness regarding individual rights as well as ensure that human rights are protected and respected throughout Jamaica, and that justice is administered for all.
“We are looking at ways in which more focussed attention can be given to certain areas such as domestic violence [and] mental health. In this regard, the Policy Division of the Ministry is now examining the possibility of introducing other specialised courts. The possibility of pairing the drug court with a mental health court will be explored,” she stated.
The forum, which looked at the Inter-American system on human rights, was staged jointly by the IACHR, the Ministry of Justice and Jamaicans for Justice.
It served to sensitise Jamaicans about their human rights, as stipulated under international law and ratified by Jamaica.

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