Jamaica - Human Rights Committee - Death Penalty & Death Row Conditions - January 2016
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The Advocates for Human Rights, in collaboration with The Greater Caribbean for Life (GCL), submitted a joint report to the UN Human Rights Committee in preparation for its 116th session, at which it will prepare the List of Issues for the upcoming review of Jamaica’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Jamaica has a de facto moratorium on death penalty; the last execution took place in 1988. The death penalty, however, remains a potential punishment for several aggravated murder offences. The report expresses concerns about continued public support for the death penalty and emphasizes the fact that courts continue to sentence people to hang. In 2011, Jamaica made several constitutional amendments which undercut restrictions on the imposition of the death penalty. Jamaica also lacks sufficient due process safeguards in capital cases.

Currently, there are two to six people detained on Jamaica’s death row. The report describes inhumane conditions on Jamaica’s death row in violation of ICCPR Article 7. Overcrowding is endemic in Jamaica, particularly in the maximum security prison that detains death row inmates. Prisoners endure poor sanitary conditions, lack of adequate medical care and a meager diet. Additionally, allegations of guards’ abuse of prisoners continue, while the specialized department that investigates complaints has been slow to make necessary administrative reforms.

The Advocates and the GCL offered a list of suggested questions the Human Rights Committee should pose during its review of Jamaica’s compliance with its ICCPR obligations.