CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. July 22, 2009: Amnesty International is giving the Jamaican government`s efforts to tackle the country`s public security crisis mixed reviews.
In a 32-page report titled `Public security reforms and human rights in Jamaica,` published on Tuesday, Amnesty International said that they have `finally` seen initiatives that might lead to real change in Jamaica.
`The outlook for Jamaica is still grim with alarming rates of killings and almost no convictions of state agents accused of serious human rights violations,` said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. `What is different now is that we finally see initiatives that might lead to real change.`
But ultimately the organization said success will only be measured in terms of lives saved and people lifted out of poverty, said Amnesty International.
AI said it is estimated that in the first five months of 2009 alone, police killings increased by 58 per cent and police officers are rarely punished for these crimes. And the organization pointed out there have been no convictions against a police officer since 2006 and only 4 convictions between 1999 and 2009 out of a total of more than 1,700 reports of fatal shootings.
Jamaica has extremely high rates of violent crime. According to police statistics, in 2008 alone there were 1,611 murders in a population of only 2.7 million. During 2008, an additional 224 people were fatally shot by police officers.
Among the government`s proposals are projects to reform the Jamaican Constabulary Force, the modernization of the justice system and the elaboration of a community safety and security policy to tackle some of the issues behind the high levels of violence in the country. Bilateral and multilateral donors have committed to supporting many of the recommendations included in these plans.
The organization also praised the authorities` project Justice System Reform which is to undertake a comprehensive review of the justice system and develop strategies and mechanisms for its modernization.