Jamaica Seeking to Protect Rights of the Disabled

Photo by Stuart Miles at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Stuart Miles at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

I’m blogging today at Oxford Human Rights Hub on the rights of the disabled and Jamaica’s proposed new legislation. Check it out!

Jamaica boasts of being the first country in the world to both sign and ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, on March 30, 2007. Seven years later, the Disabilities Act has been tabled in Parliament. This is an important step, but there are questions about whether the proposed statute’s actual impact may fall short of expectations, especially when it comes to implementation in a small, developing country. Read more here.

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Flag_of_CARICOM.svgI’m blogging today at http://www.rjrnewsonline.com about CARICOM. Please check it out!

On July 4, as the red, white and blue was being hoisted all around the world in celebration of the birthday of the United States of America, CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) marked the establishment of the regional grouping with CARICOM Day.

The word marked, as used in the preceding sentence, is a gross exaggeration, however, seeing that very few people seem to know anything about this. Read more here. 

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Rallying for the CAUSE on Gay Pride Week-end

This is my post on http://www.rjrnewsonline.com.

In a show of force similar only in recent times to the biggest of political rallies, thousands of Jamaicans gathered in Half-Way-Tree on Sunday, heeding the call of the new church-backed coalition – CAUSE: Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation.

The coalition describes its mandate as a loosely defined preservation of Jamaican values, but it is the resistance to any attempt to decriminalize anal sex – buggery – and the associated resistance to the perceived “normalisation” of homosexuality that got thousands of Jamaicans out of their homes on a hot Sunday afternoon. Read more here.

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Jamaicans for Justice at 15 – a Turbulent Adolescence?

I’m blogging today at  www.rjrnewsonline.com. Please check it out!


The first 15 years of existence of Jamaicans for Justice have been marked by some very real successes in the area of advocacy and human rights protection. The 1999 beating to death of a mentally ill man, Michael Gayle, by security forces catapulted the then brand-new organisation into the national spotlight, and exposed the horror of state brutality.  Read more 

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The Buggery Debate – Global Context

I’m blogging today at http://www.rjrnewsonline.com. here’s the beginning – do check out the rest of the post.

The cultural and religious disapproval, and let’s face it, deep distaste many Jamaicans have for homosexual men make it difficult for them to accept that the controversy over discrimination based on sexual orientation is being played out in an international human rights context, but it certainly is.

The gay rights issue is THE civil rights issue of this decade, if not this century, and Jamaica and her neighbours in the Commonwealth Caribbean are right in the middle of a global dispute, given these countries’ retention of laws that criminalise anal sex. Continued here..

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Moments from Calabash 2014


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Jamaica Kincaid at Calabash Photo by DJ Miller

This year’s Calabash audience had the rare opportunity of hearing from the immensely talented Jamaica Kincaid – first in an amusing reading from her latest book, and then in a insightful and engaging conversation with Kwame Dawes. The interchange included Kincaid’s description of the impact the Concise Oxford Dictionary had on her, as the only thing she had to read – punishment handed down to her seven-year-old self to copy out pages of “Paradise Lost” – passing comment on  letters to the Corinthians from “the constipated Paul” – and her request for a picture of the Calabash audience, which she said included the most black people she had ever seen at a reading, proving that black people do read (and write!)

I was also honoured to have been asked to participate in the celebration of this year’s featured book at Calabash 2014  “Heartland” by Wilson Harris, as one of four readers of selected excerpts. It was the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of the book.  Thanks to the Calabash crew for a wonderful opportunity!

An appreciative Calabash audience listening to Jamaica Kincaid  Photo by DJ Miller

An appreciative Calabash audience listening to Jamaica Kincaid
Photo by DJ Miller








Kwame Dawes and Jamaica Kincaid Photo by DJ Miller

Kwame Dawes and Jamaica Kincaid
Photo by DJ Miller

Calabash mobile Photo by DJ Miller

Calabash mobile
Photo by DJ Miller








The Calabash calabashes! Photo by DJ Miller

The Calabash calabashes!
Photo by DJ Miller









Enjoying the view Photo by DJ Miller

Enjoying the view
Photo by DJ Miller


Another view

Another view









An audience member punctuated his approval with slaps to his drum Photo by DJ Miller

Am audience member punctuated his approval with slaps to his drum
Photo by DJ Miller


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Declaration on World Press Freedom Day, 2014 – Kingston, Jamaica

Janet Silvera reads the Declaration while journalists hold posters to remember fallen colleagues

Janet Silvera reads the Declaration while journalists hold posters to remember fallen colleagues

Following is the text of the Declaration adopted by the Press Association of Jamaica, Association of Caribbean Media Workers and the International Press Institute at Emancipation Park, Jamaica, on World Press Freedom Day 2014, May 3, 2014:

We, Caribbean journalists, broadcasters, media entrepreneurs and managers, academics and civil society organisations assembled at Emancipation Park, Kingston, Jamaica on May 3 in observance of World Press Freedom Day 2014 devoted to:

1. Celebrating the fundamental principles of press freedom;

2. Assessing the state of press freedom in the Caribbean and throughout the world;

3. Defending the media from attacks on their independence;

4. Paying tribute to journalists who have suffered loss of life, injury, torture, kidnappings and threats in the line of duty;

Hereby pledge to devote ourselves to achievement of the objectives of this year’s universal observances that include:

1. Acknowledgement of a role for independent media in promoting good governance, empowerment and the eradication of poverty;

2. Monitoring and influencing the rule of law to ensure the safety of journalists and bringing about an end to impunity;

3. Working to ensure the sustainability of and professionalism in the practice of journalism.

We recognise the value of the free press in deepening the democratic process and promotion of the means through which true development is pursued and achieved and agree with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) that “only when journalists are free to monitor, investigate and criticise a society’s policies and actions can good governance take hold.”

We also agree that “independent investigative journalism is an ally of open government and thereby enhances the effectiveness, and thence the legitimacy, of development processes.”We endorse the position noted in the report of the United Nations High-Level Panel on the post-2015 development agenda, convened by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon , which said, “the rule of law, freedom of speech and the media, open political choice and active citizen participation, access to justice, non-discriminatory and accountable governments and public institutions help drive development and have their own intrinsic value. They are both means to an end and an end in themselves.”

We also endorse the Declaration of Port of Spain adopted by the General Assembly of the International Press Institute (IPI) in Trinidad and Tobago on June 26, 2012 in which it is agreed that “media freedom remains a key to the establishment of good governance and durable economic, political, social and cultural development, prosperity and peace in the Caribbean, and to the fight against corruption, poverty, violent crime and disease.”

In keeping with such a Declaration, we renew the call for Caribbean governments “as a matter of urgency” to abolish criminal defamation legislation and common law criminal defamation rules, as well as review civil defamation laws and all other laws that restrict media freedom.

We remain guided by Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights and other international instruments which establish freedom of expression as a fundamental human right.

We acknowledge the imperfections of Caribbean media performance and commit to actively promote measures that would encourage the pursuit of higher professional standards in journalism, including stricter adherence to ethical conduct and the existence of media work environments that promote media best practice and improved performance.

We support and encourage the efforts of the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers [and] its affiliates, including the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), along with the Media Association Jamaica (MAJ), associated organisations and institutions region-wide and internationally to promote high professional standards, more efficient networking of resources and more effective press freedom advocacy.

We call on all Caribbean people, wherever they are, to express support for freedom of the press as an integral part of the freedoms we have earned throughout our turbulent past.

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