The Human Truth Foundation

Human Rights and Freedom in Jamaica

http://www.humantruth.info/jamaica_human_rights_and_freedom.html

By Vexen Crabtree 2022

#atheism #equality #freedom #human_rights #Jamaica #politics #theism #tolerance

Jamaica
[Country Profile Page]
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index87th best
CapitalKingston
Land Area 10 830km21
LocationNorth America, The Americas, The Caribbean
GroupingsSmall Islands
Population2.9m2
Life Expectancy70.50yrs (2017)3
GNI$8 834 (2017)4
ISO3166-1 CodesJM, JAM, 3885
Internet Domain.jm6
CurrencyDollar (JMD)7
Telephone+8

Jamaica does relatively well in ensuring human rights and freedom, compared to many other countries. Jamaica comes in the best 20 in terms of supporting press freedom9 (the lowest in The Americas). It does better than average in its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice10, speed of uptake of HR treaties11, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms12 and in freethought13. Jamaica still has work to do. Christian institutions are the greatest risk to human rights, with the influence increasing even though the population is gradually shedding theistic beliefs14. Jamaica does worse than average in opposing gender inequality15, its nominal commitment to Human Rights16 and in LGBT equality17. Homosexual marriages are illegal, with consistent pressure from Christian churches preventing any movement towards tolerance14. Atheists are discriminated against, with public officials all being required to swear an oath 'before God' and other explicit Christian engagements and privileges at government level which are not given to other religions14.


1. Jamaica's Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #human_rights #morals #politics #prejudice #tolerance

Compared to The Americas (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Canada22.6
2Uruguay26.9
3Costa Rica36.7
4Chile41.4
5Argentina45.9
...
10Mexico58.4
11Ecuador59.3
12Panama59.9
13Jamaica64.6
14Guatemala65.5
15Colombia66.6
16El Salvador66.9
The Americas Avg75.1
q=35.
Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance (2020)18,19
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank18,19
1Sweden9.9
2Denmark14.7
3Norway15.5
4Netherlands16.5
5New Zealand19.0
...
54Ukraine62.4
55Bosnia & Herzegovina63.4
56Serbia63.8
57Jamaica64.6
58Georgia65.5
59Guatemala65.5
60Colombia66.6
World Avg89.0
q=199.

The best countries in the world at ensuring human rights, fostering equality and promoting tolerance, are Sweden, Denmark and Norway18. These countries are displaying the best traits that humanity has to offer. The worst countries are The Solomon Islands, Palestine and Somalia18.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are statistics on commentary in Human Rights Watch reports, its nominal commitment to Human Rights, speed of uptake of HR treaties, supporting personal, civil & economic freedoms, supporting press freedom, eliminating modern slavery, opposing gender inequality, the year from which women could participate in democracy, its success in fighting anti-semitic prejudice, LGBT equality and freethought. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Baltic States and Europe18, whereas the worst are Melanesia, Micronesia and Australasia18.

For more, see:

2. Human Rights & Tolerance Data Sets

2.1. Nominal Commitment to HR

#human_rights

Nominal Commitment to HR (2009)16
Pos.Higher is better
Treaties16
1Argentina24
2Chile23
3Costa Rica23
4Ecuador23
5Germany23
...
112Dominican Rep.14
113Kenya14
114Japan14
115Jamaica14
116Jordan14
117China14
The Americas Avg16.5
World Avg15.1
q=194.

There are many international agreements on human rights, and, many mechanisms by which countries can be brought to account for their actions. Together, these have been the biggest historical movement in the fight against oppression and inhumanity. Or, putting it another way: these are rejected mostly by those who wish to oppress inhumanely. None of them are perfect and many people object to various components and wordings, but, no-one has come up with, and enforced, better methods of controlling the occasional desires that states and peoples have of causing angst for other states and peoples in a violent, unjust or inhumane way. Points are awarded for the number of human rights agreements ratified by the country, plus the acceptance of the petition mechanisms for disputes. The maximum possible score in 2009 was 24.

2.2. HR Treaties Lag

#human_rights #international_law #micronesia #politics #small_islands

HR Treaties Lag (2019)11
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Yrs/Treaty11
1Ecuador2.15
2Uruguay2.25
3Tunisia3.65
4Colombia3.68
5Costa Rica4.05
...
53Iraq7.55
54New Zealand7.56
55Iceland7.57
56Jamaica7.61
57Honduras7.64
58Congo, DR7.72
The Americas Avg8.45
World Avg10.02
q=195.

Human Rights (HR) Treaties Lag is a count of how long it took each country to sign each of 11 key HR treaties. From the date of the first signatory of each treaty, all other countries have one point added to their score for each day they delayed in signing. Results are presented as average time in years to sign each one. The lower a country's score, the more enthusiastically it has taken on international Human Rights Treaties - which are, of course, minimal standards of good governance. The slowest are the countries of Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia and Polynesia all lagged by over 12 years per treaty. The best regions are The Americas, Scandinavia and the Mediterranean.

For more, see:

2.3. Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom

#freedom #politics

Personal, Civil & Economic Freedom (2014)12
Pos.Lower is better
Rank12
1Hong Kong1
2Switzerland2
3New Zealand3
4Ireland4
5Denmark5
...
57Suriname55
58El Salvador58
59Ghana59
60Jamaica60
61Haiti61
62Fiji61
The Americas Avg72.4
World Avg79.7
q=159.

The Human Freedom Index published by the Fraser Institute is...

... a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. It uses 79 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom in the following areas: Rule of Law, Security and Safety, Movement, Religion, Association, Assembly, and Civil Society, Expression, Relationships, Size of Government, Legal System and Property Rights, Access to Sound Money, Freedom to Trade Internationally, Regulation of Credit, Labor, and Business. [...]

The highest levels of freedom are in Western Europe, Northern Europe, and North America (Canada and the United States. The lowest levels are in the Middle East and North Africa, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. [...]

Countries in the top quartile of freedom enjoy a significant higher per capita income ($37,147) [compared with] the least-free quartile [at] $8,700). The HFI finds a strong correlation between human freedom and democracy.

"The Human Freedom Index" by The Fraser Institute (2016)20

2.4. Press Freedom

#democracy #freedom #mass_media #politics #UK

Press Freedom (2013)9
Pos.Lower is better9
1Finland638
2Netherlands648
3Norway652
4Luxembourg668
5Andorra682
...
10Sweden923
11Estonia926
12Austria940
13Jamaica988
14Switzerland994
15Ireland1006
The Americas Avg2853
World Avg3249
q=178.

The freedom to investigate, publish information, and have access to others' opinion is a fundamental part of today's information-driven world. Scores on the Press Freedom Index are calculated according to indicators including pluralism - the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence of authorities, self-censorship, legislation, transparency and the infrastructure that supports news and information, and, the level of violence against journalists which includes lengths of imprisonments. The index "does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted".

It must be noted that press freedom is not an indicator of press quality and the press itself can be abusive; the UK suffers in particular from a popular brand of nasty reporting that infuses several of its newspapers who are particularly prone to running destructive and often untrue campaigns against victims. The Press Freedom Index notes that "the index should in no way be taken as an indicator of the quality of the media in the countries concerned".

2.5. Slavery

#burundi #eritrea #france #human_rights #indonesia #slavery

Slavery (2018)21
Pos.Lower is better
% Victims21
1Japan0.03
2Canada0.05
3Taiwan0.05
4Australia0.06
5New Zealand0.06
...
49Portugal0.25
50Peru0.26
51Guyana0.26
52Jamaica0.26
53Mexico0.27
54Colombia0.27
The Americas Avg0.25
World Avg0.65
q=167.

The taking of slaves has been an unwholesome feature of Human cultures since prehistory22. Private households and national endeavours have frequently been augmented with the use of slaves. The Egyptian and Roman empires both thrived on them for both purposes. Aside from labourers they are often abused sexually by their owners and their owners' friends23. The era of colonialism and the beginnings of globalisation changed nothing: the imprisonment and forced movements of labour continued to destroy many lives except that new justifications were invented based on Christian doctrine and the effort to convert non-Christians. By 1786 over 12 million slaves had been extracted from Africa and sent to colonial labour camps, with a truly atrocious condition of life24. But they were not the only ones to blame; in Africa internal nations such as the Asantes sold and bought tens of thousands of slaves25.

The abolition of the slave trade was a long and slow process. Until a relatively modern time, even philosophers, religious leaders and those concerned with ethics justified, or ignored, the problem of slavery26. The first abolitionists were always the slaves themselves. Their protests and rebellions caused the industry to become too expensive to continue. After that, it was the economic costs of maintain slave colonies that led the British to reject and then oppose the slave trade globally. Finally, the enlightenment-era thinkers of France encouraged moral and ethical thinking including the declaration of the inherent value of human life and human dignity27. A long-overdue wave of compassionate and conscientious movements swept across the West, eliminating public support for slavery, until the industries and churches that supported it had no choice but to back down.

'Modern slavery' includes forced labour (often of the under-age), debt bondage (especially generational), sexual slavery, chattel slavery and other forms of abuse, some of which can be surprisingly difficult to detect, but often target those fleeing from warzones and the vulnerable.28. Some industries (diamond, clothing, coal) from some countries (Burundi21, Eritrea21, Indonesia29) are a particular concern. The Walk Free Foundation, say that in 2016, 40.3 million people were living in modern slavery30.

For more, see:

3. Gender Equality Data Sets

Jamaica has made some steps towards ending gender inequality but much more needs to be done.

See:

3.1. Gender Inequality

#gender #gender_equality #human_rights #misogyny #women

Gender Inequality (2015)15
Pos.Lower is better15
1Switzerland0.04
2Denmark0.04
3Netherlands0.04
4Sweden0.05
5Iceland0.05
...
90S. Africa0.39
91Kyrgyzstan0.39
92Brazil0.41
93Jamaica0.42
94Algeria0.43
95Botswana0.44
The Americas Avg0.39
World Avg0.36
q=159.

The UN Human Development Reports include statistics on gender equality which take into account things like maternal mortality, access to political power (seats in parliament) and differences between male and female education rates. Gender inequality is not a necessary part of early human development. Although a separation of roles is almost universal due to different strengths between the genders, this does not have to mean that women are subdued, and, such patriarchialism is not universal in ancient history. Those cultures and peoples who shed, or never developed, the idea that mankind ought to dominate womankind, are better cultures and peoples than those who, even today, cling violently to those mores.

Conservative Christian groups are succeeding in limiting women's rights, with rape not being recognized within marriage and abortion being illegal, punishable with life imprisonment, although some observers note that the law isn't actively applied.14.

3.2. Year Women Can Vote

#christianity #gender_equality #human_rights #politics #women

Year Women Can Vote
Pos.Lower is better
Year
1New Zealand1893
2Australia1902
3Finland1906
4Norway1913
5Denmark1915
...
47Bulgaria1944
48France1944
49Bermuda1944
50Jamaica1944
51Slovenia1945
52Croatia1945
The Americas Avg1947
World Avg1930
q=189.

Women now have equal rights in the vast majority of countries across the world. Although academic literature oftens talks of when a country "grants women the right to vote", this enforces a backwards way of thinking. Women always had the right to vote, however, they were frequently denied that right. The opposition to women's ability to vote in equality with man was most consistently and powerfully opposed by the Catholic Church, other Christian organisations, Islamic authorities and some other religious and secular traditionalists.

4. Prejudice Data Sets

4.1. Anti-Semite Opinions

#antisemitism #christianity #germany #indonesia #israel #jordan #judaism #laos #morocco #netherlands #pakistan #philippines #religion #religious_violence #saudi_arabia #spain #sweden #turkey #UK #vietnam

Anti-Semite Opinions (2014)10
Pos.Lower is better
%10
1Laos0
2Philippines3
3Sweden4
4Netherlands5
5Vietnam6
...
20Nigeria16
21Iceland16
22Uganda16
23Jamaica18
24India20
25Ireland20
The Americas Avg29.7
World Avg36.8
q=101.

Anti-Semitism is the world given to irrational racism against Jews. It is not the same as anti-Judaism (involving arguments against the religion) nor the same as anti-Zionism (arguments against Israel). In history, influential Christian theologians concocted the arguments against Jews that led, very early on, to widespread Christian action against Jews31,32,33,34. As Christianity rose to power in the West and presided over the Dark Ages, there were widespread violent outbursts against Jews of the most persistent and horrible kind. The Crusades were frequently aimed at them and the feared Spanish Inquisition paid Jews particular attention. The horror of the holocaust instigated by German Nazis in the 1940s was followed (finally) by the era of European human rights and a movement against racism in general.

The places that are the least anti-Semitical are a few countries of south-east Asia (Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam) and some of the secular liberal democracies of Europe (Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK). The worst countries for antisemitism are Islamic states of the Middle East35, which are undergoing their own Dark Age. Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Morocco, Indonesia, Pakistan and Turkey see the most oppressive and violent actions towards Jews36,37. Jews in Muslim countries face a host of restrictions and "ceaseless humiliation and regular pogroms"38. In 2004 the European Union Monitoring Center on Racism and Xenophobia reported on violent anti-Jew crimes in the EU and found that that largest group of perpetrators were young Muslim males39.

For more, see:

4.2. LGBT Equality

#equality #homosexuality #human_rights #intolerance #sexuality #tolerance

Homosexual marriages are illegal in Jamaica but under the Constitution and via the Marriage (Amendment) Act of 1979, with consistent pressure from Christian churches preventing any movement towards tolerance14.

Some analysts consider Jamaica one of the most homophobic countries on earth. Church groups, including representatives from the largest denomination "the Church of God," have organized rallies against attempts to decriminalize homosexuality, although the government has thus far made no attempts to repeal the anti-LGBTI+ laws.

"The Freedom of Thought Report" by Humanists International (2021)14

LGBT Equality (2017)17
Pos.Higher is better
Score17
1Netherlands103
2Belgium90
3Sweden86
4Brazil81
5Spain79
...
126Dominica-5
127Namibia-5
128Kiribati-5
129Jamaica-5
130Cook Islands-5
131Guyana-5
The Americas Avg26.1
World Avg12.6
q=196.

Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) folk is rife across the world. Legal restrictions co-exist alongside social stigmatisation and physical violence40. LGBT tolerance and equal rights have been fought for country-by-country across the world, often against tightly entrenched cultural and religious opposition. Adult consensual sexual activity is a Human Right, protected by privacy laws41. Despite this, homosexual activity is outlawed in around 80 countries40. The Social & Moral LGBT Equality Index was created to compare countries and regions, granting points to each country for a variety of factors including how long gay sex has been criminalized and the extent of LGBT legal rights. Graded negative points are given for criminality of homosexuality, unequal ages of consent, legal punishments and for not signing international accords on LGBT tolerance. The signs in many developed countries are positive, and things are gradually improving. Europe is by far the least prejudiced region (Scandinavia in particular being exemplary). The Middle East and then Africa are the least morally developed, where cultural bias goes hand-in-hand with state intolerance, all too often including physical violence.

For more, see:

4.3. Freedom of Thought

#europe #freedom_of_belief #freethought #human_rights #netherlands #religion #religious_tolerance #secularism #the_enlightenment

Jamaica's 19th-century blasphemy law was removed in 2013, putting some historical prejudice to bed14. Although Jamaica's Constitution protects freedom of religion (Section 17)14, it causes discrimination against the non-religious and against atheists; for example, public officials must all swear an oath to God14, which therefore makes it illegal for atheists to take up those jobs. Government activity includes explicit Christian engagements with no opening for other faiths and no consideration for those who have no religion14.

Freedom of Thought (2021)13
Pos.Lower is better13
1Belgium1.0
2Netherlands1.0
3Taiwan1.0
4Sao Tome & Principe1.3
5Ecuador1.3
...
71Estonia2.8
72Georgia2.8
73Malta2.8
74Jamaica2.8
75Ireland2.8
76Nepal2.8
The Americas Avg2.7
World Avg3.0
q=196.

Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Belief are upheld in Article 18 the United Nation's Universal Declaration of Human Rights42. It affirms that it is a basic human right that all people are free to change their beliefs and religion as they wish43. No countries voted against this (although eight abstained). This right was first recognized clearly in the policies of religious toleration of the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe in the post-enlightenment era44 of the 19th century. In democratic countries, freedom of belief and religion is now taken for granted45. In 2016 a study found that over 180 countries in the world had come to guarantee freedom of religion and belief46. The best countries at doing so are Taiwan, Belgium and The Netherlands13,47 and the worst: Afghanistan, N. Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia13,48.

Long-term studies have shown that religious violence and persecution both decrease in cultures where religious freedom is guaranteed49. Despite this, there still are many who are strongly against freedom of belief43, including entire cultures and many individual communities of religious believers. Their alternative is that you are not free to believe what you want and they often state that you cannot change religion without being punished (often including the death penalty): this is bemoaned as one of the most dangerous elements of religion50 and "the denial of religious freedoms is inevitably intertwined with the denial of other freedoms"51 and the solution is, everywhere, to allow religious freedom and the freedom of belief.

For more, see:

Despite religious opposition, the government have managed to make some reforms. In 2013, the 19th-century blasphemy law (supported by a 1863 Defamation Act) were replaced, removing the concept of blasphemy from law.