Amnesty International heavily criticised Caribbean countries for human rights abuses, especially Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and The Bahamas in their Annual Report on the state of the World’s human rights that was released last week. In fact, countries all across the Americas were condemned for their treatment of undocumented migrants and equal rights policies.
The Dominican Republic was rebuked for the deportation of thousands of people of Haitian descent – including some Dominican born-people – leaving hundreds effectively stateless. The Bahamian administration was criticised for illegally deporting migrants from Cuba and Haiti. The Caricom (Caribbean Community) in general was criticised for failing to respect international migration law, with Amnesty commenting that if countries continued to act with impunity the rule of law would be weakened and millions of people would be left without redress. Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru and Venezuela were also criticised for a “denial of meaningful access to justice for large numbers of people.”
Jamaica was singled out for a “decades-long pattern” of extrajudicial killings by law enforcement officers, and it was noted that while 3,000 people have been killed by law enforcement since 2000, only a “handful of officials” have been held accountable. Hate crimes against LGBTQI people persisted, and gender violence remains a major problem. Furthermore, Jamaica continues to detain children in violation of international legal standards. These reported human rights violations had been highlighted in June 2016 and recommended for reform, but Jamaica is yet to propose a plan for reform or to establish a national human rights overseer. Jamaica has the highest homicide rate in the Americas but the government continues to reject responsibility for the human rights violations detailed above.
Reports of serious gender rights violations came from Brazil, Canada, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Jamaica, Nicaragua, the USA and Venezuela. States fail to hold perpetrators accountable and fail to protect women and girls from gender violence, especially rape and killings, but also from economic and educational discrimination.
LGBTQI persecution, discrimination and hate crimes were recorded and condemned in Argentina, The Bahamas, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, the USA and Venezuela. Notably, the Bahamas voted down a constitutional amendment in June that proposed to grant legislative gender equality on citizenship matters. Amnesty International said that the result “puts at risk the citizenship rights of families, in particular the risk of separation of families with diverse nationalities.”
Amnesty International concluded the report by noting the general risk of a ‘domino effect’ as states backtrack on human rights commitments and deemed it a major challenge that must be addressed. Furthermore, it warned that the divisive “politics of demonization” (commonly referred to as the “us versus them” rhetoric) is fuelling the global retreat from these human rights obligations and must be resisted.
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