Death Penalty Database

Jamaica

Information current as of: March 27, 2012

General

Official Country Name

Jamaica. [1]

Geographical Region

Latin America (Caribbean). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2032.htm, Apr. 6, 2011.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Sep. 20, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010.
[4] Capital Punishment U.K., Capital Punishment in the Commonwealth, http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/common.html, last accessed Feb. 21, 2010.

Country Details

Language(s)

English. [1]

Population

2,825,928. (2009 estimate). [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

8. According to Amnesty International’s submission in relation to the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review of Jamaica, there were 4 people on death row at the end of 2009. [3] There were 4 death sentences and no executions in 2010. [4] By December 7, 2011, there had been no reports of executions in 2011, bringing the total number of persons under sentence of death to 8. Amnesty International reports that there are “at least seven” persons known to be under sentence of death by the end of 2011. [5]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on October 18, 2017)

0. [6]

Executions in 2016

0. [7]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [8]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [13]

Executions in 2009

0. [14]

Executions in 2008

0. [15]

Executions in 2007

0. [16]

Year of Last Known Execution

1988. [17]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2032.htm, Apr. 6, 2011.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2032.htm, Apr. 6, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[6] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[7] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[8] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 2010; Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Aggravated Murder.
Murders of security forces, judicial officers, witnesses, jury members or other civil servants may be punished by death. Murder for hire, murder in the course or furtherance of another offense such as robbery, rape or arson, or murder committed to further an act aimed at undermining the public peace and order, is punishable by death. Double-murders or repeat murderers are punishable by death. [1]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

No. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council struck down the mandatory death penalty in 2004, [2] and the current penal code no longer provides for the mandatory death penalty. [3]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

The current penal code no longer provides for the mandatory death penalty. [4]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

The last execution was in 1988. [5]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Jamaica is a party to the ACHR [6] and is obligated not to execute people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime.

Pregnant Women.
The sentence of death cannot be pronounced on pregnant women. [7]

Intellectually Disabled.
A person suffering from “abnormality of mind” due to “a condition of arrested or retarded development or any inherent cause induced by disease or injury” so as to diminish mental responsibility cannot be convicted of capital murder. [8]

Mentally Ill.
A person suffering from “abnormality of mind” due to “a condition of arrested or retarded development or any inherent cause induced by disease or injury” so as to diminish mental responsibility cannot be convicted of capital murder. [9]

Elderly.
Jamaica is a party to the ACHR [10] and is obligated not to execute the elderly.

References

[1] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2(1)(a-f), 3(1)(a), 3(1A), 2005.
[2] Lambert Watson v. The Queen, Conclusion, Appeal No. 36 of 2003, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jul. 7, 2004.
[3] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2(1)(a)(b)(c)(e), 3(1)(a), 2005.
[4] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2(1)(a)(b)(c)(e), 3(1)(a), 2005.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jun. 9, 2010.
[7] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person, art. 3(2), 2005.
[8] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person, art. 5(1), 2005.
[9] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person, art., 5(1), 2005.
[10] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jun. 9, 2010.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

Yes. [1]

Date of Accession

December 19, 1966. [2]

Signed?

Yes. [3]

Date of Signature

October 3, 1975. [4]

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. Jamaica originally ratified the Optional Protocol on October 3, 1975. On October 23, 1997, the Government notified the Secretary-General of its denunciation of the Protocol. [5]

Date of Accession

October 3, 1975.
Denounced, October 23, 1997. [6]

Signed?

Yes. [7]

Date of Signature

December 19, 1966. [8]

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [9]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [10]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Yes. [11]

Date of Accession

July 19, 1978 [12]

Signed?

Yes. [13]

Date of Signature

September 16, 1977 [14]

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

No. [15]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [16]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [17]

Vote

Against. [18]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [19]

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [20]

Vote

Against. [21]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [22]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [23]

Vote

Against. [24]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [25]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [26]

Vote

Against. [27]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [28]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [29]

Vote

Against. [30]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

No. [31]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [32]

Vote

Against. [33]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [34]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011; U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, sec. 55, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[7] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011; U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, sec. 55, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[8] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011; U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, sec. 55, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[9] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[10] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[11] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[12] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[13] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[14] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[15] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm , last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[16] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals A-53: Prot. to the Amer. Conv. on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, Jun. 8, 1990, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic8.death%20penalty%20ratif.htm , last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[17] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[18] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[19] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Note Verbale dated 7 September 2017, U.N. Doc. A/71/1047, Sep. 13, 2017.
[20] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[21] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[22] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[23] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[24] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[25] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[26] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[27] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[28] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[29] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[30] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty: Resolution, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[31] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale Dated Jan. 11, 2008, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[32] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: Human Rights Questions, Including Alternative Approaches for Improving the Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[33] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty: Resolution, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[34] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated Feb. 2, 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Yes. The Constitution guarantees the right to life, providing: “No person shall be intentionally deprived of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offense of which he has been convicted.” [1] The Constitution restricts those under penalty of death from voting and from holding office. [2] The Constitution mentions the death penalty along with the Prerogative of Mercy procedure. [3]

Two constitutional amendments passed in April 2011 also mention the death penalty. The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which replaces Part III of the Constitution, prohibits construing the duration of imprisonment on death row and the conditions of imprisonment as being inconsistent with the constitution. [4]

A second amendment affecting section 91 of the Constitution requires the Governor General to provide a condemned person with notice of a date, not less than 18 months from the date of the notice, by which any applications or complaints to external bodies such as the UN or Inter-American Commission on Human Rights must be commenced and concluded. [5] Section 91 further specifies that the Governor is not obligated to consider any report published by the external body after that date, and is also not required to take into account the average turnaround time of that entity. [6]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

No. [7]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

Two recent constitutional amendments have significantly undercut judicial restrictions placed on the implementation of the death penalty. Under Pratt & Morgan v. Jamaica, [8] decided in 1993, there was a presumption that individuals who had spent more than five years on death row could not be executed. Partly because the appeals process in the Caribbean tends to take more than five years, [9] one effect of Pratt had been to limit the number of executions in the Caribbean. The effect of Pratt & Morgan was later reinforced by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council’s 2000 decision in Lewis v. Attorney General of Jamaica, which required that Jamaica allow the complete appeals process, including appeals to international treaty-based tribunals, to run prior to carrying out an offender’s death sentence. [10] By 2004, the UN Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Summary and Extrajudicial Executions noted that, despite the rule announced in Pratt, a number of Jamaica’s 50 death row inmates at that time may have been held under sentence of death for more than five years. [11] It appears that the death sentences of many of those individuals were commuted to life, since reports indicate that by the end of 2010, only 8 inmates were held under sentence of death. [12] However, the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which was passed in April 2011 and replaces Part III of the Constitution, voided Pratt by explicitly excluding the duration of imprisonment on death row and the conditions of imprisonment from being construed as inconsistent with the constitution. [13] As noted by The Advocates for Human Rights, “[g]iven the abysmal conditions as reported on Jamaica’s death row and the potential for prolonged delays beyond five years, this development places Jamaica’s capital inmates at risk of death row phenomenon.” [14]

While the first constitutional amendment bars constitutional challenges based on conditions of confinement and delay, the second amendment significantly constrains an inmate’s ability to hold the government accountable for its international obligations with regard to any number of human rights issues, including the right to due process and to be protected from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It also undermines the Lewis ruling. The second amendment requires the Governor General to provide a condemned person with notice of a date, not less than 18 months from the date of the notice, by which any applications or complaints to external bodies such as the UN or Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) must be commenced and concluded. [15] The new constitutional provision further specifies that the Governor is not obligated to consider any report published by the external body after that date, and is also not required to take into account the average turnaround time of that entity. [16] In Lewis, the Privy Council had rejected an 18-month period as inadequate to allow for inmate appeals to the IACHR. This constitutional development reduces the ability of international human rights bodies to exercise meaningful oversight on the implementation of the death penalty in Jamaica.

Although Jamaica has not executed anyone since 1988, Jamaica recently reaffirmed its commitment to retaining the death penalty. In 2008, lawmakers were asked to make a “conscience vote” to abolish or retain the death penalty; legislators and the Jamaican government voted on November 26, 2008 to retain capital punishment and are determined to use it to fight the country’s rising crime rate. [17] At its 2010 Universal Periodic Review, Jamaica stated that “there was no demand for … abolition, but rather for retention” and that “it was therefore highly unlikely that Jamaica would change its stance and vote in favour of the General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty or move to an abstention.” [18] In July of 2010, the Jamaican Prime Minister said that he would honor the 2008 Parliament decision to resume hangings, once all appeal avenues had been exhausted by death row prisoners. [19] Both the governing People’s National Party and Jamaica Labor Party want to re-introduce the death penalty to control “the country’s spiraling crime rate.” [20]

However, certain restrictions apply to the implementation of the death penalty. The death penalty applies only to the most highly aggravated cases of aggravated murder. [21] In addition, Jamaica has eliminated the mandatory death penalty in its laws—the only Jamaican law applying the death penalty is the Offenses Against the Person Act, and as of 2005 it reflects the JCPC’s decision in Watson v. The Queen that the mandatory death penalty is unconstitutional in Jamaica. [22] Laws such as the 2005 Terrorism Prevention Act do not provide for the death penalty. [23]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. [24]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

The court of final instance for Jamaica is the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), the Commonwealth court of appeal. [25] Development of legal rules surrounding application of the death penalty has largely taken place through this court. Because the Privy Council has historically been the highest court of appeal for other Commonwealth countries, other Commonwealth jurisprudence developing legal rules regarding the application of the death penalty may also be applicable in Jamaica. (To date, discussions on Jamaica adopting the Caribbean court of justice (CCJ) as its highest appellate court have not led to reform.) [26]

In Watson v. The Queen, decided in 2004, the JCPC reiterated earlier Commonwealth jurisprudence [27] in holding that the mandatory death penalty constitutes unconstitutional inhuman treatment. [28] The JCPC determined that because Jamaica had altered its laws on murder, the JCPC could not apply the Constitution’s saving clause (which could potentially protect Jamaica’s murder laws from a fundamental human rights-based challenge). Thus, the JCPC found that the mandatory death penalty in Jamaica is unconstitutional because it amounts to inhuman punishment. [29]

In the wake of Dougal v. R, [30] decided in 2011, the death penalty in Jamaica is limited to the most highly aggravated murders. In Dougal, the Jamaican Court of Appeal adopted the rule in Trimmingham v. The Queen, a JCPC case on appeal from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Trimmingham held that the death penalty should be reserved for only “the worst of the worst” or the “rarest of the rare” murderers, and overturned a death sentence for murder because even though it was cold-blooded and committed in order to rob the victim, the victim was not subject to torture or prolonged humiliation after death. [31] In Dougal, the court concluded that a death sentence “should only be imposed in those exceptional cases where there is no reasonable prospect of reform and the object of punishment would not be achieved by any other means.” [32] A majority of the court found that Dougal, who shot and instantly killed a couple in their bed after breaking into their room in the middle of the night, was not among the worst of the worst. He was sentenced to life in prison. [33]

However, recent constitutional amendments significantly undercut other advances made in the Privy Council’s jurisprudence. In Pratt & Morgan v. The Queen, decided in 1993, the JCPC held that prisoners who have served more than five years on death row have presumptively been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment in violation of the constitution and must have their sentences commuted. [34] This ruling was later reinforced by the JCPC’s 2000 decision in Lewis v. Attorney General of Jamaica, which required that Jamaica allow the complete appeals process, including appeals to international treaty-based tribunals, to run prior to executing a death sentence upon an offender. [35] The Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, passed in April 2011, voided the effect of both Pratt & Morgan and Lewis by explicitly excluding the duration of imprisonment on death row and the conditions of imprisonment from being construed as inconsistent with the constitution, [36] and by imposing strict time limits on the presentation and consideration of appeals to international human rights bodies. [37]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council posts its recent decisions at:
http://www.jcpc.gov.uk/decided-cases/index.html

Privy Council judgments decided before August 2009 are archived at:
http://privycouncil.independent.gov.uk/judicial-committee/judgements/

The Supreme Court of Jamaica makes decisions of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal available at: http://supremecourt.gov.jm/judgments

What is the clemency process?

Prior to the execution of a sentence of death, the Governor-General must obtain a written report of the case from the trial judge and any other useful information and forward it to the Privy Council, which determines its own internal procedures for making recommendations on mercy to the Governor-General. The Governor-General is required to act on the recommendations of the Privy Council, although he may also exercise the prerogative of mercy at his own discretion for urgent matters. [38]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

Twelve-person juries are used for capital cases. [39]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Appeals lie to the Court of Appeal and then to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. [40] Because Jamaica is party to the American Convention on Human Rights, the condemned may petition the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights concerning human rights issues surrounding the conviction or sentence. The State must wait for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights’ recommendation before carrying out an execution. [41]

References

[1] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, arts. 13, 14, as amended to 2011.
[2] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, arts. 37(2)(a), 40(2)(d), as amended to 2011.
[3] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, arts. 90-91, as amended to 2011.
[4] An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and for connected matters, s. 13(8)(a)-(b), No. 12-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[5] Jamaica Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2011, s. 91(a)(1), No. 13-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[6] Jamaica Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2011, s. 91(a)(1B), No. 13-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[7] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, amended 1999.
[8] Pratt & Morgan v. Jamaica, Appeal No. 10 of 1993, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Nov. 2, 1993.
[9] Attorney General v. Boyce, paras. 15, 47, 117, 126, 131, 138-139, Appeal No. CV 2 of 2005, Caribbean Court of Justice, Jun. 21, 2006 (discussing the effect of the 5-year limit imposed by Pratt).
[10] Lewis v. Attorney General of Jamaica, Petitions to International Human Rights Bodies, Appeal Nos. 60, 65 and 69 of 1999 and 10 of 2000, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Sep. 12, 2000.
[11] U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, paras. 52-58, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[13] An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and for connected matters, s. 13(8)(a)-(b), No. 12-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[14] The Advocates for Human Rights, Jamaica: Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the 103rd Session (17 October – 4 November 2011), http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/uploads/jamaica_2011_final.DOCX, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[15] Jamaica Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2011, s. 91(a)(1), No. 13-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[16] Jamaica Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2011, s. 91(a)(1B), No. 13-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[17] Thomas Hubert, Jamaica Vote Illustrates Retentionist Trend in the Caribbean, World Coalition Against the Death Penalty, http://www.worldcoalition.org/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=322&keywords=Jamaica, Jan. 9, 2009 ; U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 8, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[18] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Jamaica, p. 6, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/14, Jan. 4, 2011.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Amnesty International Report 2010: Jamaica, POL 10/001/2010, May 28, 2010.
[20] Michael Deibert, Death Penalty: Jamaicans Debate Re-introduction, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35016, Oct. 6, 2006.
[21] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2(1)(a-f), 3(1)(a), 3(1A), 2005. See also Peter Dougal v. R., Case No. 135/2007, Jamaica Ct. of Appeal, 2011.
[22] Jamaica Offenses Against the Person Act, arts. 2(1)(a-f), 3(1)(a), 3(1A), 2005.
[23] Lambert Watson v. The Queen, Conclusion, Appeal No. 36 of 2003, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jul. 7, 2004.
[24] Jamaica Terrorism Prevention Act, No. 18 of 2005.
[25] Amnesty Intl., Report 2009: Jamaica, http://report2009.amnesty.org/en/regions/americas/Jamaica, last accessed Jul. 20, 2010.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[27] Alicia Dunkley, Nicholson doubts Ja will resume capital punishment, Jamaica Observer, http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Nicholson-doubts-Ja-will-resume-capital-punishment_8612870, Apr. 1, 2011.
[28] Reyes v. The Queen, Appeal No. 64 of 2001, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Mar. 11, 2002; Hughes v. The Queen, Appeal No. 91 of 2001, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Mar. 11, 2002; Fox v. The Queen, Appeal No. 66 of 2000, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Mar. 11, 2002.
[29] Watson v. The Queen, paras. 21-35, Appeal No. 36 of 2003, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jul. 7, 2004.
[30] Watson v. The Queen, para. 47, Appeal No. 36 of 2003, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jul. 7, 2004.
[31] Peter Dougal v. R., Case No. 135/2007, Jamaica Ct. of Appeal, 2011.
[32] Trimmingham v. Queen, Appeal No. 67 of 2007, paras. 21-23, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Jun. 22, 2009.
[33] Pipersburgh & Anor v. The Queen (Belize), para. 33, [2008] UKPC 11, Privy Council, 2008, citing Moise v. The Queen, para. 18, E. Caribbean Ct. of Appeal, 2005.
[34] Peter Dougal v. R., Case No. 135/2007, Jamaica Ct. of Appeal, 2011.
[35] Pratt v. Morgan, Appeal No. 10 of 1993, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Nov. 2, 1993.
[36] Lewis v. Attorney General of Jamaica, Petitions to International Human Rights Bodies, Appeal Nos. 60, 65 and 69 of 1999 and 10 of 2000, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Sep. 12, 2000.
[37] An Act to Amend the Constitution of Jamaica to provide for a Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and for connected matters, art. 13(8)(a)-(b), No. 12-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.
[38] Jamaica Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2011, s. 91(a)(1), No. 13-2011, Apr. 7, 2011.


[39] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, arts. 88, 90, 91, amended 1999.
[40] Ministry of Justice, Jamaica’s Jury System, p. 4, Justice Education Unit, http://www.moj.gov.jm/pdf/THE_JURY_SYSTEM.pdf, Mar. 2006.
[41] The Jamaica Constitution Order of 1962, arts. 101-110, amended 1999.
[42] Lewis v. Attorney General of Jamaica, Appeal Nos. 60, 65 and 69 of 1999 and 10 of 2000, Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, Sep. 12, 2000.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Saint Catherine Adult Correctional Center in Spanish Town has two blocks for death row inmates. Death row is a concrete block of two floors called Gibraltar 1 and 2, containing 26 cells in each block, or 52 cells in total. “Gibraltar” is basically a prison within the prison, separated from the rest of the prison by barbed wired fences. [1] We did not find reports of other prisons in Jamaica that hold death-sentenced male prisoners. [2] When women are held under sentence of death, they may be held elsewhere—perhaps in the Fort Augusta women’s prison. [3]

During his mission to Jamaica in early 2010, the Special Rapporteur for torture found that all 6 persons sentenced to death at that time were held in Gibraltar 1, and Gibraltar 2 had been converted into a high-security unit, or “punishment block,” for non death row inmates. [4]

Description of Prison Conditions

Death row is situated in the two-storey Gibraltar building, located towards the center of the grounds of Saint Catherine Adult Correctional Center in Spanish Town. The prison is old—it was built by the British in 1655 to house slaves – and severely overcrowded. With additions constructed in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, it can accommodate 691 prisoners, but, in 2011, was at nearly twice its capacity, holding 1285 inmates. [5] The Gibraltar building was built in 1892. [6]

Each storey in Gibraltar contains two identical blocks. Each block contains 26 cells, laid out facing each other along a central corridor. Section 41 of the Corrections Act provides that “[e]very inmate under sentence of death shall be confined apart from other inmates in a special cell, and shall be under constant supervision day and night.” [7] Because the number of death-sentenced prisoners has decreased dramatically in recent years, Gibraltar 1 is currently able to accommodate each inmate in his own cell. [8] In the past, death row inmates reported deplorable conditions in cramped cells. [9]

Each cell is approximately 5ft by 10ft (1.75m by 3.5m), with almost 10ft high ceilings (3m). There are no windows, but a thin rectangular air vent above head height provides a little daylight. It is also exposed to the elements, and the inmates complain that rain blows into the cells. Little light enters the cells, and without electrical light it would be impossible to read in the cells during the day. There are two electrical sockets on the wall outside each cell, from which inmates may run a live electrical wire into their cell. The prison does not provide light bulbs, so inmates are dependent upon the prison black market or what their families bring them. Inmates are sometimes denied the use of the electrical sockets as a form of punishment. [10]

A 2011 report on Jamaican prison conditions, based on an August 2009 prison visit, provides a very thorough report of the deplorable detention conditions on death row:
Each death row cell used to contain a solid concrete cuboid bunk on which the inmates slept. However, at some stage over the past few years, these were all destroyed (apparently due to concerns that inmates were concealing forbidden items in them) and the inmates now place their thin sponge mattresses – if they are lucky enough to possess them – on the stone floor. At the time of the visit, three of the eight condemned inmates were without mattresses, and were forced to sleep on top of either thin sheets, or merely cardboard, which they place on the hard floor. The majority of the mattresses are old and worn, with the sheet covering the sponge coming away; they are often covered in mould and falling apart, reflecting both the dirty and unsanitary conditions in the cells and the inability of the institution to provide new bedding. Whether an inmate possesses a mattress or not, the lack of beds or bunks and the thinness of the mattresses available means that inmates sleep very close to the stone floor, which is invariably dirty. One of the most frequent complaints from inmates is that they are covered in insects, such as cockroaches, ants, and bedbugs, while they sleep, and whilst they are locked down in general. [11]

The sanitation conditions are abysmal. On entering Gibraltar 1, one visitor reported that “the heat and the stench can be overwhelming.” There are no toilets or sinks inside the cells. While there are two toilets on each Gibraltar block, they are not in working order. Prisoners empty their “slop buckets” in the pit toilets outside, in the fenced compound. These are in desrepair, and covered in flies and mould. When the prison sewage system breaks down, which happens regularly, sewage waters can overflow into the small area in which Gibraltar inmates exercise. The inmates use an outside tap to wash themselves and their clothing, and to “catch” water to bring back to their cells for drinking (the cells are unbearably hot in the daytime). Inmates fill whatever receptacles they can find, such as empty soda bottles or buckets. The tap is open to the elements with no privacy. [12] Inmates are allowed out of their cells for about two hours a day. Outdoor recreation space, which must be shared with prisoners on the “punishment block,” is grossly inadequate. There is only a small dirt yard measuring approximately 5 x 10 meters and two other negligibly-sized open spaces. [13]

During a 2010 visit, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment noted that Saint Catherine was a “very old [construction] originally built for “storing” people but … not suitable for modern correctional purposes, including rehabilitation and re-socialization.” The Rapporteur also found that “basic services such as electricity, the use of toilets and access to medical attention depended on the goodwill of the warders.” Corruption was evident from the fact that “[d]etainees also reported that they could purchase marijuana and mobile phones from the warders.” After visiting Gibraltar 1, the Rapporteur reported that death row inmates “were allowed to go outside for one or two hours each day, but were not able to see any other prisoners,” except for other death row inmates. Death row prisoners also complained of the presence of maggots in cells. [14] Visits lasted between 3 to 5 minutes, twice a month, and there was no way for death row inmates to contact their families by phone. [15] According to one death row inmate, convicts had access to books from the library, and could play football, dominos and cards with other death row convicts. [16] The Rapporteur found that conditions of confinement were generally better in institutions for women and children. [17]

Abuse of detainees and prisoners by prison guards and police is a serious problem. “Prison food was poor and wardens were observed serving themselves generously with whatever meat was available, leaving only leftover gravy for the inmates.” [18] Prison warders had been known to falsely announce to death row inmates that an execution was imminent. [19]

Prison medical and mental health care is poor or virtually nonexistent, with only three doctors, one psychiatrist and a single full-time nurse for about 5,000 inmates spread throughout 12 facilities. Inmates have died as the result of injuries that—if treated—would be considered minor, and doctors’ concerns about individual and prison population health have gone unheeded by prison authorities. [20]

Reports also indicate that sexual abuse and rapes are widespread in Jamaican prisons, especially those targeting mentally-challenged prisoners. [21] In 2011, a consultant prison psychiatrist denounced the “public-health nightmare” which could be triggered by “the highly unsanitary conditions in which mentally ill inmates are forced to exist,” and noted that the personal hygiene needs of mentally-ill prisoners, especially among the elderly, had to be met by other mentally-ill prisoners. [22]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

As of December 7, 2011, we did not find any reports of foreign nationals on death row in Jamaica.

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

As of December 7, 2011, we did not find any reports of foreign nationals on death row in Jamaica.

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

As of December 7, 2011, we did not find any reports of women on death row in Jamaica.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

Jamaica is a party to the ACHR [23] and is obligated not to execute people who were under the age of 18 at the time of the crime. We found no reports that Jamaica violates this treaty obligation—although there were reports in 2003. [24]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

As of December 7, 2011, we did not find information regarding discriminatory application of the death penalty. Eight people were under sentence of death by the end of 2010, according to Amnesty International. [25]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Under the Legal Aid Act, the state provides legal aid for indigent defendants facing criminal charges. There is also Duty Counsel at police stations for accused persons before they face trial. As of 2006, there were 275 attorneys on the Legal Aid Council’s panel. [26] Legal aid is restricted for individuals accused of certain money laundering and drug-related offenses, and we do not know if this limitation applies to those facing capital charges in addition to such offenses.

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Through the legal aid program, indigent prisoners facing the appeals process have access to a state-provided attorney. As of 2006, there were 275 attorneys on the Legal Aid Council’s panel. [27] Legal aid is restricted for individuals accused of certain money laundering and drug-related offenses, [28] and we do not know if this limitation applies to those facing capital charges in addition to such offenses.

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

Legal aid attorneys were available to defend indigent persons. However, the Office of the Public Defender had to contract with private attorneys to represent indigent persons; funds were inadequate to meet the demand, resulting in attorneys sometimes requesting payment from clients. [29]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Defendants are presumed innocent and have the right to confront their accusers. The judiciary’s independence is questionable, as it relies on the Ministry of Justice—responsible for prosecutions—for all of its funding. A severe judicial backlog can partially be attributed to a persistent problem of seating enough jurors for cases. Citizens have been reluctant to serve as jurors for fear of retribution. Witnesses also fail to come forward as a result of threats, intimidation or murder. Antiquated rules of evidence and inadequate resources lead to the loss of important evidence for criminal investigation and trial. [30] Carl McHargh, a man who spent 7 years in jail because of a wrongful conviction and has survived attempts on his life (his codefendant did not), has stated that the judicial system is very corrupt and that judges and police officers can be “bought.” [31]

References

[1] Center for Capital Punishment Studies, Internship Reports 2006, p. 45, http:// www.westminster.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/43579/internship-report-06.pdf, last accessed Sep.15, 2011.
[2] Kirsty Brimelow, A Shadow of Death Hangs over Jamaica and Its Criminals, The Sunday Times, http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article600449.ece, Oct. 17, 2006.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 43, 46, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010. James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, p. 20, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[5] The Advocates for Human Rights, Jamaica: Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee For the 103rd Session (17 October – 4 November, 2011), http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/jamaica_-_human_rights_committee_-_iccpr.html, last accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
[6] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[7] Corrections Act of Jamaica, sec. 41, Dec. 2, 1985.
[8] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, p. 21, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[9] Daniel Sills, Death Row Blues, New Internationalist, http://www.newint.org/columns/currents/2004/12/01/death-row-blues/, Dec. 2004.
[10] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, pp. 21-22, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[11] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, p. 21, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[12] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, pp. 22-23, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.
[13] James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, pp. 22-23, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011. The Advocates for Human Rights, Jamaica: Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee For the 103rd Session (17 October – 4 November, 2011), http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/jamaica_-_human_rights_committee_-_iccpr.html, last accessed Nov. 15, 2011.
[14] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 12, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[15] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, pp. 44-45, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[16] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 45, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[17] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 12, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[18] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[19] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 45, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[20] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[21] The Jamaica Gleaner, Investigation into Prison Rapes Launched, http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20060122/news/news3.html, Jan. 22, 2006.
[22] The Jamaica Gleaner, Sick State: Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist Warns Of Looming Public-Health Crisis, http://jamaicagleaner.com/gleaner/20110123/news/news1.html, Jan. 23, 2011.
[23] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jun. 9, 2010.
[24] U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, para. 57, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[25] Amnesty Intl., Jamaica: Submission to the U.N. Universal Periodic Review, p. 3, AMR 38/001/2010, Apr. 19, 2010; Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[26] Jamaican Ministry of Justice, The Legal Aid Council, http://www.moj.gov.jm/node/view/13, 2006 (discussing the Jamaica Legal Aid Act, art. 15, No. 36, 1997).
[27] Jamaican Ministry of Justice, The Legal Aid Council, http://www.moj.gov.jm/node/view/13, 2006 (discussing the Jamaica Legal Aid Act, art. 15, No. 36, 1997).
[28] Jamaica Legal Aid Regulation Act, arts. 2, 11, No. 145, 2000.
[29] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[30] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Jamaica, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/wha/136118.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[31] Michael Deibert, Death Penalty: Jamaicans Debate Re-introduction, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=35016, Oct. 6, 2006.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Because Jamaica has denounced the Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, individuals may no longer petition the Human Rights Committee to issue decisions regarding human rights violations in Jamaica. [1] A number of decisions involving defendants facing capital charges predate Jamaica’s denunciation and are available at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/countries/LACRegion/Pages/JMIndex.aspx. One of the most recent of these is the Human Rights Committee’s 2004 Communication in Lobban v. Jamaica, in which the Committee found that the conditions in which Mr. Lobban had been held on death row were cruel and inhuman. [2] Specifically, the Committee found violations of Article 7 (and Article 10) because Mr. Lobban was detained in a cell for 23 hours each day; the cell had no mattress, natural light, or sanitation; the food and drink provided were of very poor quality; Mr. Lobban was not allowed to work or undertake education; and he had no access to medical care, including no treatment for ulcers, gastroenteritis, and hemorrhoids. [3] Mr. Loban’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1995, after approximately seven years on death row, likely as a result of the five year limit imposed in Pratt and Morgan. [4]

In its most recent Concluding Observations adopted on November 1, 2011, the Human Rights Council noted “the progress made by the State party by lifting the mandatory death sentence for certain crimes in 2005,” and “that the State party has not carried out judicial executions since 1988.” However, the Council expressed concern “that the State party does not intend to abolish the death penalty.” [5]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In 2004, the Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Summary or Extrajudicial Executions found that the criminal justice system was inefficient and lacked adequate checks and balances and made a number of recommendations regarding the use of excessive force resulting in killings by police and security forces. The Rapporteur also suggested that there was domestic interference with the appeals of those sentenced to death, particularly when the subject of an appeal was the commutation of a sentence of death under Pratt and Morgan. Two individuals were possibly under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and the rapporteur noted that a number of people may have been convicted for capital offenses despite being mentally ill. [6]

In 2004, the Special Rapporteur on Arbitrary, Summary or Extrajudicial Executions found that the criminal justice system was inefficient and lacked adequate checks and balances and made a number of recommendations regarding the use of excessive force resulting in killings by police and security forces. The Rapporteur also suggested that there was domestic interference with the appeals of those sentenced to death, particularly when the subject of an appeal was the commutation of a sentence of death under Pratt and Morgan. Two individuals were possibly under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18, and the rapporteur noted that a number of people may have been convicted for capital offenses despite being mentally ill. [7]

Prior to Jamaica’s 2010 Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Council requested follow-up on the 98 Views it issued between 1998 and 2004, in which it expressed concern that “the death penalty had been imposed in judicial proceedings not fully compliant with the requirements of fair trial.” While 36 of these cases had resulted in commutations and Jamaica had provided details for 27 cases, the Council requested replies for the 31 remaining cases. [8]

During the Human Rights Council’s 2010 Universal Periodic Review, Jamaica rejected recommendations that it institute a de jure moratorium on executions, commute all death sentences to prison terms, accede to the Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR or re-accede to the First, and abolish the death penalty. [9]

In a 2010 mission to Jamaica, the Special Rapporteur for torture noted that “some of [his] interlocutors insinuated that legal executions, now de facto abolished, had been replaced by extrajudicial executions, carried out by the police who took the law into their own hands.” [10] He expressed concern at “the increasing number of fatal shootings by the police, often allegedly amounting to extrajudicial executions, as well as the apparent lack of investigation and accountability in a large number of these cases.” [11]

Jamaica has not recognized the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. [12] The Inter-American Human Rights Commission, prior to Watson v. The Queen (a case in which the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council struck down the mandatory death penalty in Jamaica) found that the mandatory death penalty in Jamaica contravenes articles 4 and 5 of the American Convention. [13]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Jun. 9, 2010; U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, secs. 55, E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[2] Dennis Lobban v. Jamaica, paras. 8.1-8.3, Communication No. 797/1998, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/80/D/797/1998, U.N. Human Rights Committee, 2004.
[3] Dennis Lobban v. Jamaica, para. 8.1, Communication No. 797/1998, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/80/D/797/1998, U.N. Human Rights Committee, 2004.
[4] Dennis Lobban v. Jamaica, para. 2.1, Communication No. 797/1998, U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/80/D/797/1998, U.N. Human Rights Committee, 2004.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 40 of the Covenant: Concluding observations of the Human Rights Committee: Jamaica (Advanced Unedited Version), p. 4, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/hrc/docs/CCPR.C.JAM.CO.3.doc, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.
[6] U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, paras. 52-58, 71, 87, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[7] U.N., Economic and Social Council, Civil and Political Rights, Including the Question of Disappearances and Summary Executions, paras. 52-58, 71, 87, U.N. Doc. E/CN.4/2004/7/Add.2, Sep. 26, 2003.
[8] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Compilation prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1: Jamaica, p. 9, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/9/JAM, Aug. 12, 2010.
[9] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Jamaica, pp. 9, 21, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/14, Jan. 4, 2011.
[10] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 15, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[11] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowa : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, p. 17, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010.
[12] Status, Declarations, Reservations, Denunciations, Withdrawals, B-32: Amer. Conv. on Human Rights, Pact of San Jose, Costa Rica, Nov. 22, 1969, http://cidh.oas.org/basicos/english/basic4.amer.conv.ratif.htm, last accessed Jun. 9, 2010.
[13] Sewell v. Jamaica, para. 86, Case 12.347, Inter-Am. C.H.R., Report No. 76/02 (2002); Denton Aitken v. Jamaica, paras. 103-104, 111, Case 12.275, Report No. 58/02, Inter-Am. C.H.R., Doc. 5 rev. 1 (2002).

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

None.

Helpful Reports and Publications

The Advocates for Human Rights, Jamaica: Submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee for the 103rd Session (17 October – 4 November 2011), http://www.theadvocatesforhumanrights.org/uploads/jamaica_2011_final.DOCX, last accessed Nov. 23, 2011.

James Robottom, Prison Conditions in Jamaica: A Report based on James Robottom’s visit in August 2009, The Death Penalty Project & The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights, 2011.

U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak : Addendum : Mission to Jamaica, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/52/Add, Oct. 11, 2010. The Special Rapporteur interviewed each of the six prisoners on death row during his visit.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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