Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jamaica continues to suffer from increased levels of violence, with a record 1,674 people murdered in 2005

Petrina Francis:

The damning report, entitled 'The State of the World's Human Rights', said conditions of detention frequently amounted to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Another problem AI highlighted was that police officers often failed to preserve crime scenes, and statements from officers were often taken only after long delays.

It said several policemen charged with unlawful killings fled from justice, including the policeman charged with the murder of 10-year-old Renee Lyons in 2003.

AI further argued that, despite legislation to establish a police civilian oversight authority, that law did not mandate the authority to play any major role in investigating alleged unlawful police killings.

Violence against women was also highlighted in the report. According to AI, in the first eight months of 2005 there were 835 reported cases of sexual assault against women and girls, of which 67 per cent were against girls, and 16 per cent were at gunpoint. Most injuries to women, the report said, were inflicted by an intimate partner.

The report also stated that rates of HIV infection among women and girls were on the rise in Jamaica and that people living with HIV faced systematic discrimination.

According to AI, amendments to reform and update the Offences Against the Person Act and the Incest (Punishment) Act, submitted to Parliament in 1995, were still awaiting approval. It pointed out that marital rape was still not a criminal offence.

AI also said gay men and lesbians continued to face violence and discrimination.

In August, the report said two men were convicted of buggery and sentenced to two years' imprisonment with hard labour, suspended for two years. During previous hearings, crowds gathered outside the courthouse had verbally abused the men.

Rights groups say Amnesty report justified

Amnesty International continues to criticise Jamaica

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