Jamaicans are predominantly of African descent. Persons of mixed descents account for about 7.3% of the total population and the remaining 92% is of partial or total African descent. Throughout history, the structure of the Jamaican society has been represented by a pyramid with people of mixed decent at the apex, and the masses (those of African descent) at the base. With the legacy of slavery still persistent in modern day Jamaica, the human rights situation of People of Afro-Jamaicans is similar to that of other developed and developing countries. Colourism is to Jamaica as racism is to western societies and its effects are the same as elsewhere in the world- marginalization of Afro Jamaicans, persistent inequality, systematic discrimination and the resultant violation of fundamental Human Rights.
There continues to be violation (actions in which human rights are ignored) of the right to safety and freedom of EVERY Jamaicans. There is a sense of hopelessness as these violations are often at the hands of those who’ve sworn to serve and protect Jamaican citizens- the security force; or are systemic in nature. The profound social and economic marginalization of large sectors of the Jamaican population results in the poorest and most excluded sectors of the population being disproportionately victimized by the overall situation of insecurity.
– Arbitrary and unlawful killings by police force continue to affect Afro-Jamaican boys and men from inner city communities who are often profiled by how they dress or their hairstyles.
– Excess use of force by police officer, arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment while in police custody is common place.
– High level of gender based and domestic violence with a high numbers of women killed by their spouse of partners.
– Homophobia and discrimination which continues to alienate members of the LBGTQ community
o Consensual sex between men remain criminalized
o Lesbian women, bisexuals and transgender women are at risk of sexual violence (corrective rape) as society tries to fix them.
There are several obstacles which have resulted in the State’s inadequate measures to protect and guarantee the human rights of women, children and other vulnerable groups. A key obstacle is resource constraints. Economic, social and cultural rights require the state to spend considerable sums to provide basic services, given the countries dismal growth and debt responsibilities it these rights are not realized in practice. This is fueled by weak legal framework to enforce and protect these rights. Finally, and in my opinion very critical, is the politicization of issues of rights. In the context of political economy and lack of accountability discussion of rights are often used as part of the campaign strategy.