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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

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In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                    


Killings by police remain a serious problem in Jamaica. According to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), 168 individuals were killed by security personnel in 2017.

. [Freedom House Country Report, 2018]

Description: Description: Jamaica

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Jamaica.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Jamaica

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 26 July 2021]


The constitution prohibits such practices, although there is no definition of torture in the law. There were allegations of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment of individuals in police custody. The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) investigated reports of alleged abuse committed by police and prison officials. The majority of reports to INDECOM described excessive physical force in restraint, intimidation, and restricted access to medical treatment. Representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) expressed concern regarding underreporting by victims, particularly among the vulnerable or persons with mental disabilities.

Rapes were occasionally perpetrated by security forces. In July, Correctional Officer Gavin Wynter was arrested and charged with rape after he reportedly sexually assaulted a woman at the Tower Street Adult Correctional Center in Kingston. As of October the case had not been tried.

INDECOM investigated actions by members of the security forces and other agents of the state that resulted in death, injury, or the abuse of civil rights. When appropriate, INDECOM forwarded cases to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions for agents to make an arrest. INDECOM remained one of the few external and independent oversight commissions that monitored security forces, but reported it was unable to investigate each case thoroughly due to manpower limitations and significant delays by police in conducting identification parades of suspects.


Conditions in prisons and detention facilities were harsh and life threatening due to gross overcrowding, physical abuse, limited food, poor sanitary conditions, inadequate medical care, and poor administration.

Physical Conditions: Correctional facilities were significantly overcrowded. At times cells in the maximum-security facility at Tower Street held 200 percent of the intended capacity. Cells were very dark and dirty, with poor bathroom and toilet facilities and limited ventilation.

Jamaica: Amnesty International supporters take half a million actions to end impunity for unlawful police killings

Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director, Amnesty International AI, 15 March 2018

[accessed 5 January 2019]

“Tens of thousands of activists from as far afield as Sweden, Taiwan and Côte d’Ivoire have sent a clear message to Prime Minister Holness that the deeply troubling wave of killings by Jamaican police cannot continue to go unpunished,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, director of Amnesty International in the Americas.

In 2017, Jamaican law enforcement officers killed 168 people, an average of three people a week in a nation of 2.8 million. Over the past decade only a handful of police have been convicted for such killings.

A Special Coroner’s Court was established in 2011 to conduct inquests into killings by police and determine their lawfulness, but the court has built up a long backlog of cases due to its insufficient annual budget, which covers the cost of just one judge and a nominal staff.

Freedom House Country Report

2018 Edition

[accessed 17 May 2020]


Killings by police remain a serious problem in Jamaica. According to the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM), 168 individuals were killed by security personnel in 2017.

A Commission of Inquiry in 2016 submitted a report on the state of emergency declared in 2010 in response to violence in the Tivoli Gardens neighborhood of Kingston, in which more than 70 civilians were killed in an operation aimed at arresting an alleged drug trafficker. The report found that security forces had acted disproportionately, and recommended that the government apologize for the event and provide victims with compensation and counseling services; the government issued an apology and provided some compensation to relatives of those killed in December 2017. However, the JCF in August 2017 issued its own report on the raid, which cleared members of wrongdoing and questioned the integrity of the earlier report.

Waiting in Vain - Jamaica: Unlawful police killings and relatives' long struggle for justice

Amnesty International AI, 23 November 2016, Index number: AMR 38/5092/2016

Download Report at

[accessed 5 January 2019]

For decades, Jamaican communities, especially those in disenfranchised inner city neighbourhoods, have been scarred by an epidemic of unlawful killings by police. This report finds that, although the number of killings by police has fallen in the past two years, the way the police operate and unlawfully kill remains largely unchanged. The vast majority of victims are young men and teenagers. The manner of their deaths and the failure of the state to bring those responsible to justice have a profound and lasting impact on their loved ones.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

POLICE AND SECURITY - The number of people killed by police fell in 2012 as compared with 2011, but remained worryingly high. Several people were killed in controversial circumstances.

Following public outrage at the killings of 21 people by police in just six days at the beginning of March, the Minister of National Security announced that a review of the policy on police use of force would be undertaken and that the government would hold “the Commissioner of Police and the High Command accountable for a reduction in the level of Police fatal shootings”. However, by the end of the year no information had been made available about how this would be implemented.

In July, three soldiers were charged with the murder of Keith Clarke in his home during the first week of the 2010 state of emergency. In spite of repeated promises, the Public Defender failed to submit a report to Parliament with the findings of his investigation into allegations of human rights violations, including unlawful killings, during the state of emergency. The government stated that the decision on whether to appoint an independent commission of inquiry about what happened would depend on the results of the Public Defender’s investigation.

In its report to Parliament in June, the Independent Commission of Investigations into abuses by the security forces (INDECOM) identified collusion among members of the security forces, wearing masks and balaclavas during operations, and delays in obtaining forensic evidence as major challenges in the investigations. Following several judicial challenges brought by the police against INDECOM, a review of the legislation was initiated with the aim of clarifying INDECOM’s powers and mandate.

In October, the Minister of National Security announced that the government intended to dismantle the committee overseeing the implementation of police reform. Civil society organizations criticized this decision.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 5 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 2   Civil Liberties: 3   Status: Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 2 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Despite government efforts to improve penal conditions, a mounting backlog of cases and a shortage of court staff at all levels continue to undermine the judicial system, which is slow and inefficient, particularly in addressing police abuses and violence in prisons. In April 2008, Amnesty International reported that 272 civilians had been killed by the police during the preceding year, but that punishment of negligent officers was rare given the persistent culture of impunity. Although there has been some willingness by authorities to charge police for extrajudicial killings, the system for investigating such abuse lacks personnel to pursue cases, protect crime-scene evidence, take statements from officers in a timely manner, and conduct adequate autopsies of victims.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 2 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]


Although the law prohibits such practices, reports of physical abuse of prisoners by guards continued, despite efforts by the government to remove abusive guards and improve procedures. On August 9, the Department of Correctional Services announced that it had discharged 16 correctional officers for misconduct. At year's end the department, in conjunction with the police, was investigating alleged criminal activities of the fired correctional officers, including trafficking of contraband, abuse of inmates, missing ammunition, and assisting with prison escapes.

A former prison doctor for the St. Catherine Adult Correction Center in Spanish Town publicly alleged at a St. Catherine parish council meeting and in a letter to the commissioner of corrections that mass rapes, particularly of mentally ill inmates and inmates serving time for nonviolent offenses, occurred at the prison during the year. The doctor also alleged that prison guards and some inmates were involved in "renting out" the victims for sex with other inmates. The Ministry of National Security agreed to investigate the allegations.

On February 17, the Supreme Court ordered the government to pay $50 thousand (J$3 million) in damages for the "oppressive and unconstitutional" conduct by a policeman who shot and injured 36-year-old electrician Esrick Morgan in 1998.

On March 9, a Supreme Court judge, in assessing damages against the government, described the conduct of a policeman who gave a prisoner a knife to wound another while in custody as "outrageous." The injured man was awarded $20 thousand (J$1.2 million) with interest in damages.

There were no developments in the case of six police officers accused of raping a prostitute in Negril, Westmoreland in March 2004.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, " Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Jamaica",, [accessed <date>]