In delivering Jamaica’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Report to the UN Human Rights Council, Senator the Honourable Kamina Johnson Smith defended Jamaica’s human rights record, highlighting the country’s long history in support of the promotion and protection of human rights starting with its first presentation in the UN General Assembly in 1963. “We are therefore proud of our contribution to the international human rights architecture over the decades,” said the Minister.
The Foreign Minister highlighted advances made since the 2nd UPR which took place in 2015. This included Jamaica’s consistent top 10 rankings in the World Press Freedom Index since 2016 and its correlation to the advancement of democracy and human rights. She also emphasized the connection between health, human rights, and economic development, all of which contribute substantially to the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Vision 2030. She stated that “The Government has also implemented strategies to lower the country’s crime rates, boost economic growth and environmental sustainability, and reduce the rate of chronic NCDs, as well as poverty levels, particularly rural and child poverty.”
Minister Johnson Smith indicated that Jamaica had given priority to combatting gender-related human rights violations through the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence and the creation of safe havens for women escaping domestic abuse. The Minister was pleased to report progress in respect of the Government’s first child-friendly shelter, and also referenced efforts to address Family Violence through the Spotlight Initiative launched in March 2020.
Jamaica’s work towards improving the treatment of our incarcerated was also shared including the recent audit, building renovations, proposed amendments to relevant legislation aimed at the improvement of prisoner care, rehabilitation processes, and compliance with international practices. In respect of mentally challenged inmates abandoned by their family, she noted that “action had been taken and will continue to be taken to address the cases, assuring that the inmates’ rights are protected.”
She clarified that the progress made over the last 5 years was important, but that it was also critical to note gaps as well as the limitations caused by the current pandemic and other external shocks. She explained, “External factors including weather conditions can and have caused real challenges and constraints on some institutional work and the level of assistance that the Government would ideally want to provide for our citizens, especially the most vulnerable.”
Senator Johnson Smith presented Jamaica’s Third Cycle Report under the UPR of the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC), on Wednesday, 11th November 2020 during the 36th Session of the UPR Working Group being held from 2nd to 13th November 2020 in Geneva. Jamaica previously underwent reviews in November 2010 and May 2015. The HRC will adopt jamaica’s Report on Friday, 13 November 2020.