KINGSTON, Jamaica, July 28, 2021:The Human Rights Commission of the People’s National Party in reacting to the arrest of a man who is said to have disrespected the prime minister, emphasizing that every person in Jamaica is entitled to respect for and the protection of their dignity as a human being.
According to the PNP, "It is disconcerting that in the public domain there appears to be video recordings demonstrating that an accused man’s dignity as a human being is being contravened by what appears to be members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force."
A statement from the PNP's Human Rights Commission led by Mr. Isat Buchannan, has pointed out that "the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms is a recognition of human dignity to such an extent that it is the supreme law in the land against which the actions of the organs of the state and everybody else must be measured."
According to Buchanan "While we reserve judgment for the proper judicial body to determine, armed with all the relevant facts, we are concerned by the number of violations which appear to be perpetuated including:
1. Intrusion into the sanctity of the person’s home;
2. Public dissemination of the video recording of said intrusion in a manner which is undignified and likely without the person’s consent;
3. Public dissemination of a video recording of an apology at what appears to be a police station, which offends against the accused’s right to seek counsel, right against self- incrimination, and potentially evidence of a confession given under duress."
He pointed out that "It is not insignificant that this person is also the person who made a public video expressing his views on the curfew restrictions recently imposed. It is not up for debate that every person in Jamaica is entitled to respect for and the protection of the right to hold their conscientious beliefs, and to communicate their thoughts and beliefs as a form of expression, provided that such expression does not defame or injure the reputation of others. Where such defamation is done, however, that is a civil matter which is enforced through the courts and outside the hands of the Jamaica Constabulary Force."
The Human Rights Commission said "These issues bring to the fore the need to revisit colonial laws which the Jamaica Constabulary Force is mandated to enforce, such as the Towns and Communities Act of 1843, last amended in 1997.
"Our colonial laws were designed to keep enslaved and formerly enslaved people in Jamaica censored in order to deny them their personhood and dignity as human beings. Today, we see how remnants of this manifest itself in the way in which the enforcers of these laws act.
"We must never forget that Jamaica is a free and democratic society with a revolutionary Charter of Rights that protect its citizens from arbitrary abuse from State actors who are deemed creatures of the constitution put in place to serve its citizens," Buchanan declared.