342. On 6 December 2004, the Special Representative, jointly with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, transmitted a letter of allegation regarding individuals and associations defending the rights of gays and lesbians in Jamaica, in particular the members of the human rights organization JFLAG (Jamaican Forum of Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays). Attention has been drawn to a letter to the editor by the Jamaican Police Federation‘s Public Relations Officer, published in the Jamaica Observer of 25 November 2004. In his letter, which follows the publication on 16 November 2004 of a report by Human Rights Watch entitled “Hated to death: Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica‘s HIV/AIDS epidemic”, the Police Federation‘s Public Relations Officer “condemn[s] the role of these so-called ‘human rights’ groups to spread lies and deliberately malign and slander the police force and the government”. He calls on “the Minister of Justice to examine these allegations and slap on sedition charges where necessary to both foreign and local agents of provocation”. In stating that “the Government and the police cannot be held responsible for…. the cultural responses of the population towards gay”, the letter also appears to condone violence against gays and lesbians. This impression is insufficiently dispelled by the assurance that “as law enforcement officers we try our utmost ‘to serve, to reassure and to protect’”. The letter to the editor raises particular concerns against the background of reported attacks and threats against persons defending the rights of homosexual men and women in Jamaica. According to the information received, on 9 June 2004, Brian Williamson, a well-known gay rights activist, was murdered at his home. Within an hour after his body was discovered, reportedly a crowd gathered outside the crime scene. A smiling man called out, “Battyman [homosexual] he get killed!” Many others reportedly celebrated Williamson’s murder laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time, ” “that’s what you get for sin, ” “let’s kill all of them.” Furthermore, it is reported that JFLAG regularly receives intimidating mail, e-mails and telephone calls. By way of example, according to the information received, on 16 November 2004 an anonymous male called JFLAG and said “homosexuals should be dead”. These incidents have been reported in writing to the Matilda’s Corner police station in Kingston on 26 November 2004. In view of the above, concern is expressed that individuals and associations defending the rights of gays and lesbians, in particular the members of JFLAG, may be at risk of both attempts by public authorities to suppress their exercise of free speech and of violent attacks by homophobic individuals who may have gained the impression that the Government will not vigorously pursue such violence.{{49}}

[[49]] Please note that this case is also mentioned in the report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, E/CN.4/2005/64/Add.1,  March 29, 2005, para. 494. [[49]]

link to full text of the Report: Report-SR Human Rights Defenders-2005


Translate »