Jamaica criticized for ‘alarming’ violence level

Posted on 09 Dec 2008 at 2:58pm
By Howard Campbell Associated Press

More than 1,240 killings this year on island of 3 million people

KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights said Dec. 5 that there are still too many incidents of excessive police force and attacks against gays in Jamaica.

More than 350 questionable shootings involving Jamaican police are being investigated, with the majority occurring in poor communities, according to the island’s Bureau of Special Investigations.

"Everybody acknowledges [police] are under stress, but there is no adequate system of accountability and investigation," commission chairman Paolo Carozza said.

His team arrived Dec. 1 in Jamaica and expects to issue a full report next year on what it calls an "alarming" level of violence.

More than 1,240 killings have been reported this year in the island of 3 million people.

Carozza said he also is concerned about the lack of law-enforcement resources. Carozza said the government’s forensic lab is understaffed and not properly equipped, while the coroner faces a massive backlog.

Carozza’s team also met with police and government officials about the increasing attacks on gays and lesbians.

"What alarms us is the general level of violence against gays that goes unpunished. As far as we can tell, these are not investigated properly," he said.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding came under fire earlier this year for saying he would not allow gays in his Cabinet.

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