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Report on Prison Conditions in Jamaica


2. (a) Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons; (b) Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.


3. Te penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.


Jamaica had also ratified the first Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, permitting nationals to make individual complaints to the Human Rights Committee. However, in 1997 the Government denounced the Protocol and withdrew from the jurisdiction of the Committee. Jamaica is also not a party to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.


Jamaica is a state party to the American Convention on Human Rights (‘ACHR’), but it does not recognise the competence of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Article 5 of the ACHR enshrines a ‘Right to Fair Treatment’ which contains the following relevant prohibitions and requirements: 1. Every person has the right to have his physical, mental, and moral integrity respected. 2. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment or treatment. All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. 3. Punishment shall not be extended to any person other than the criminal. 4. Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons, and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as unconvicted persons. 5. Minors while subject to criminal proceedings shall be separated from adults and brought before specialized tribunals, as speedily as possible, so that they may be treated in accordance with their status as minors. 6. Punishments consisting of deprivation of liberty shall have as an essential aim the reform and social readaptation of the prisoners.


In addition, the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (‘SMR’) lay out a detailed series of specific substantive requirements for conditions of detention. While the SMR were established as long ago as 1955, are not legally binding, and themselves contain the caveat that they ‘seek only, on the basis of contemporary thought… to set out what is generally accepted as being good principle and practice’, they nevertheless provide important legal and moral guidance when assessing penal standards. Tis


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