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Foreword


Jamaican Penal Institutions house anyone unfortunate enough to be caught up in the criminal justice system – the guilty, the innocent and those suffering from mental illness. On any view, the conditions described in James Robottom’s carefully written report are sub-standard and breach both Jamaican and international legal requirements and the challenge for the executive, legislature and judiciary is to face up to this reality. In their overview, Tim Owen QC and Alison Macdonald conclude that “a system of independent monitoring of prisons is now an urgent priority”, and few readers of this publication will be able to dissent from this recommendation.


Te Constitution of Jamaica is an affirmation by the people of Jamaica that their nation should be founded upon principles which acknowledge faith in human rights and fundamental freedoms, the dignity of human beings and the equal and inalienable rights with which all human beings are endowed. Te Constitution expressly prohibits inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment and James Robottom’s account of his findings inevitably leads to the conclusion that prison conditions in Jamaica are unconstitutional and fall way short of recognised and accepted minimum standards for the treatment of prisoners. We sincerely hope that this report will add a little more weight to the constitutional recognition that the rights it proclaims are afforded to every person in Jamaica including those lawfully detained in Jamaica’s penal institutions. Te time has surely come for some positive action.


We would like to thank James Robottom for his dedication and perseverance in producing such an insightful account of prison conditions in Jamaica. Based on his stark findings, concrete measures should now be taken to ensure that Jamaica’s penal system complies with domestic and international standards governing the treatment of prisoners. We would also like to thank Tim Owen QC and Alison Macdonald, prison law experts, for their contextual overview. We hope that their constructive recommendations for change will act as an indispensible guide to legislators and penal reformers who urgently need to consider the state of Jamaican prison conditions in light of contemporary human rights standards. We would also like to express our thanks to Dr Lloyd Barnett and Nancy Anderson of the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights for their support and excellent advice on this project.


Finally, we would like to thank Baroness Vivien Stern for adding her perspective to the report. It is shocking that little has changed since she visited the prison over 20 years ago.


Saul Lehrfreund MBE and Parvais Jabbar Executive Directors Te Death Penalty Project July 2011


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