Jamaica has broken with its Petro-Caribe benefactor, Venezuela, in the most recent OAS-General Assembly vote on the deterioration of democracy in Venezuela.  Nevertheless, the country remains a laggard in terms of its definition and protection of women’s rights.

Below is a breakdown of Jamaica’s actions and votes at the various venues we are monitoring. For more information click on each title and summary.


Freedom House  
Freedom Status Free
Aggregate Score (100 is perfect freedom and protection of rights) 78
Political Rights (scores out of 40, with 40 being the best) 34
Civil Liberties (scores out of 60, with 60 being the best)  344
Press Freedom  Free
Reporters Without Borders  
       World Press Freedom Index 10.51
Transparency International  
Corruption Perception Index (CPI) 44/100
 Global Rank 69/180
World Justice Project [1]  
Rule-of-Law Index 0.57
 Regional rank  13/30
 Global rank 49/128
UN Human Development Index  
 Human Development Index (HDI) 0.734
 Global rank 101
Americas Quarterly [2] (last report 2016)  
 Social Inclusion Index N/A
Regional rank N/A

United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC or Council)

Jamaica has never been on the UNHRC.

UNHRC’s Universal Periodic Review

As part of its mandate to promote human rights around the globe, the UNHRC has instituted a Universal Periodic Review (UPR), where, once every four years, each country’s human rights record is examined. Other countries are invited to review the record and make comments and suggestions for improvement. The country under review then acknowledges each comment by either “accepting” the comment, meaning typically that they agree to focus on, or “noting” it, indicating that they disagree and will not be focusing on improvements in this area.

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As recipient: Jamaica received 170 recommendations. Accepted 94, noted 76. (only select topics listed below)

Area Received Accepted Noted
Civil society  –  –  –
Elections  –  –  –
Enforced disappearances  5  –  5
Extrajudicial executions  1  1  –
Freedom of association and peaceful assembly  –  –  –
Freedom of opinion and expression  –  –  –
Freedom of religion and belief  –  –  –
Freedom of press  –  –  –
Human rights defenders  2  2  –
Human rights violations by state agents  5  3  2
Impunity  –  –  –
Indigenous peoples  1  –  1
Internally displaced persons  –  –  –
International instruments  45  9  36
Justice  10  8  2
Migrants  –  –  –
Minorities  –  –  –
Racial discrimination  –  –  –
Sexual orientation and gender identity  18  2  16
Torture and CID treatment  20  2  18
Women’s rights  28  19  9
Total  100  37  63

Note: some comments are classified under multiple categories.

As commenter: Jamaica has not been very active in the UPR process, with 38 comments made so far in the 2nd cycle (for data available). With 36% comments made towards other Latin American countries, it consistently made 2-3 comments for most, but not all, countries around the globe.

Note: This data is for the 2nd cycle of the UPR. However, the final round of countries were reviewed in November/December 2016, and that data is not yet available to include in our analysis here.[/expandableContent]

UN NGO Committee

Jamaica has not been on the committee since 1993.

Inter-American System:

OAS Permanent Council

Under the new leadership of Secretary General Luis Almagro, the OAS has re-found its focus on defending democracy but is still bound by the wishes and will of its members. But the newfound leader’s commitment—and the challenges—were shown at a meeting in June 2016 where Almagro presented his report on the state of democracy in Venezuela and proposed invoking the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

In June 2016, OAS members voted on whether Secretary General Luis Almagro should present his report laying out the evidence on how and why it was necessary to invoke the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Venezuela. Surprisingly, Jamaica voted in favor of hearing the report. Jamaica joined a list of PetroCaribe countries that abandoned their usual support for Venezuela.

During the Meeting of Foreign Ministers on the Situation in Venezuela, at the 2017 OAS General Assembly, Jamaica voted in favor of a U.S.-backed resolution that called for the release of political prisoners, and urged the Venezuelan government not to convene a constituent assembly that would rewrite the Venezuelan constitution. It abstained from voting on a CARICOM backed resolution asking Venezuela to reconsider leaving the OAS. By supporting the U.S. backed resolution Jamaica joined Honduras, another PetroCaribe country, in voting in favor of human rights and against the interest of Venezuela.

Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR or Commission)

Jamaica has not financially support the IACHR, though it has been cooperative with the organization.

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Year Contributions by Jamaica Percentage of Total
Contributions to IACHR
2014  –

Voluntary financial contributions to IACHR  (as of Sept. 16, 2016):


Electoral Missions

The OAS has conducted a three electoral observation missions to Jamaica since 2007. The latest electoral observation mission took place on February of 2016, when the OAS monitored Jamaica’s general elections. The OAS also monitored elections in 2011 and 2007.

Freedom of Information Laws

Since 2000 the right to information and freedom of information laws have expanded across the region. However, the existence of the laws on the books does not necessarily mean full enforcement.

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Signatory/Participant in MESICIC* Yes
Constitutional protection* No
Specific law enacted* Yes- enacted in 2002
Is there a presumption of right* Yes
Scope/Exceptions/Overrides* right to information not constitutionally protected, materials can be excluded, requestors do not have a right to access records/documents.
Received information under FOIA law?** N/A
Received information within a week?** N/A
Received the appropriate information?** N/A

*Data taken from the Global Right to Information ratings, provided by the Center for Law and Democracy.
**Information from the 2015 World Justice Project Open Government Index


Women’s rights:

Protecting women against gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked globally even though it crosses social, economic and national boundaries. And according to the United Nations Population Fund, gender-based violence undermines the health, security, dignity, and autonomy of its victims. Although 16 countries in Latin America had modified their laws to include a specific type of crime referring to the murder of women by 2015, they are not uniformly implemented, and practices to convict perpetrators of gender-based violence are still extremely weak. A 2016 report published by the Small Arms Survey found that Latin America and the Caribbean is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the highest rates of femicide in the world.

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Jamaica has a female homicide rate of 9.3 per 100,000 women, making it the 11th country with the highest rate of femicide in the world. Although Jamaica criminalized domestic violence in 1995, male “macho” behavior is experienced across the country. In 2009, the government passed the Sexual Offenses Act, which defined rape as nonconsensual penetration of a vagina by a penis, which is a narrow definition that fails to protect female victims of non-vaginal rape or vaginal penetration with an object or body part other than a penis. According to the World Bank, Jamaican women between 15 and 24 years old have the highest risk of being victims of violence, and of the 12% of women who reported being raped in Jamaica in 2008, 46.7% of them were under 20 years old. Jamaica does not appear to have a law on femicide, which would serve as a first step in trying to end femicide in the country.


[1] WJP Rule-of-Law Index measures 4 principles: 1) The government and its officials and agents as well as individuals and private entities are accountable under the law; 2) The laws are clear, publicized, stable, and just; are applied evenly; and protect fundamental rights, including the security of persons and property and certain core human rights; 3) The process by which the laws are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient; 4) Justice is delivered timely by competent, ethical, and independent representatives and neutrals who are of sufficient number, have adequate resources, and reflect the makeup of the communities they serve.
[2] AQ Social Inclusion Index uses 23 different factors to measure how effectively governments are serving their citizens, regardless of race or income, and is published annually by Americas Quarterly at the Americas Society/Council of the Americas.
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