Among JFJ’s major roles is working with people whose rights have been breached by police or security forces and who come to our offices seeking help. JFJ does not solicit clients; in most cases, citizens approach us in relation to a specific alleged abuse, ranging from unlawful search or detention, to more egregious allegations, including excessive use of force and extra-judicial police killings. In cases of alleged fatal police shootings, our Legal Department provides representation for the families of the deceased at Coroner’s Inquests through to the Supreme Court.
In addition to the legal arm of our advocacy efforts, Jamaicans for Justice operates a range of programs geared to promote good governance and advance the rights of Jamaican citizens. Among these initiatives are the Social and Economic Justice and Access to Information (ATI) Projects, which seek to improve public sector accountability while promoting human rights awareness through community and government stakeholder engagement.
Our Library and Documentation Centre is a free public resource for citizens interested in human rights, legal, social and political literature. A diverse range of domestic and international periodicals, research papers and historical literature is available through the Centre, together with computer and internet use for a nominal fee.
While Jamaicans for Justice works independently and diligently to lobby for the realization of rights by all Jamaicans, we recognize the importance of developing working linkages with other like-minded NGOs and community based citizens’ groups, both locally and internationally. External partnerships with such organisations as Amnesty International, The Carter Center, and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, play a pivotal role in advancing our platforms and we are grateful for our partnerships with these influential advocacy groups.
Human Rights Education in Schools
The Human Rights Education Project was developed for students and teachers at the high school level. Human rights issues are explored and discussed through Cry for Justice, a 22-minute human rights education DVD produced by Jamaicans for Justice, lively discussion and printed material on human rights. The ultimate goal of the Human Rights Education Project is to provide information and to foster attitudes that will lead to the practice of human rights for all.
Social and Economic Justice Project
The Social and Economic Justice Project assesses community problems and empowers community leaders and community members by increasing awareness about economic and social rights. We assist residents to develop skills that can be used in advocating for improvements to their social services, which include schools, police stations, hospitals, health centres, post offices and churches.
JFJ works with groups such as the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning (JFLL) and the
Jamaica Society for the Blind (JSB) to help community members advance social and economic rights.
Legal Assistance and Advocacy Project
Case Monitoring and Response
By monitoring cases and providing legal counsel and general advice to families and persons who seek help, we work towards curbing the abuse of the rights of Jamaican citizens. JFJ’s Legal Department comprises a full-time Attorney and two Paralegals who make up the Response Team. The primary role of the Response Team is to assist persons in realising their rights. Legal representation is provided by the Attorney or Legal Counsel in the Coroners’ Court, Supreme Court and the Privy Council. Select cases have also been brought to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington DC.
Education and Advocacy
Important societal issues, particularly problems arising from Jamaica’s justice system, are brought to the fore with the overall goal of effecting change. This aspect of the project is primarily administered through Community Lawyer, a biweekly radio show on Roots FM (96.1) along with monthly “Know Your Rights” legal advice workshops in inner city communities and quarterly e-newsletters which review the status of cases that are before the Coroners’ Court. Consultative public forums and stakeholder access information. Access to Information requests can be made through JFJ. There is a lobbying component of the project, which involves stakeholder partnerships that monitor and evaluate the implementation and administration of the Access to Information Act.
Access to Information and Human Rights Social Justice Project
The project empowers ordinary citizens to demandand achieve accountability and transparency in theoperations of their Government. Citizens are assistedwith gaining information from Government ministriesand agencies using the Access to Information Act.Monthly workshops and a radio campaign areprovided to educate persons about their right toaccess information. Access to Informationrequests can be made through JFJ.There is a lobbying component of the project, which involves stakeholderpartnerships that monitor and evaluate the implementation and administration of the Access to Information Act. The Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders’ Committee (of which JFJ is a member) assists in this process and provides recommendations to the Government on its implementation of the ATI Act.
Child Care and Protection
The protection of the rights of children in Jamaica, particularly those in the nation’s places of safety and children’s homes, has been an issue and concern for JFJ since 2003. JFJ has monitored and documented the situation of Jamaica’s children in both State and privately run children’s homes with the hope that highlighting their problems will lead to improvements in their situation. In 2003, a report was prepared by JFJ on the dire situation of the children in the care of the State and it was presented to the Inter American Commission’s Special Rapporteur on the Rights of the Child. JFJ participated in the review of the draft Child Care and Protection Act by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament in 2004. This review led to the passage of the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) in March of that year. In 2005, working in conjunction with other Non governmental Organizations (NGOs), JFJ requested and accessed monitoring reports from the Child Development Agency (CDA). These reports were analysed and the findings presented to the agency together with suggestions for changes to enlarge the protection provided by the agency to the wards of the State. Concerned that little was changing on the ground for the children, JFJ prepared and presented another report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in October 2006 on the situation of the children in the care of the State.