Open Government Partnership
Earlier this year, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) joined forces with a group of concerned civil society actors to call on the Jamaican Government to prioritise the fulfilment of its commitments under the Open Government Partnership (OGP) agreement it signed back in December 2016. The OGP is an international agreement that brings together 79 governments and thousands of civil society leaders from around the world to create National Action Plans that ensure governments are inclusive, responsive and accountable. Once a country becomes a signatory to this agreement, their government has a limited time in which to complete the next step including the creation of National Steering Committee and the submission of a National Action Plan in order to maintain its standing as an OGP participant.
With only months left to submit Jamaica’s National Action Plan, the previously mentioned alliance of organisations which was formed in September 2018 and is comprised of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), the Jamaica Environment Trust (JET), the SlashRoots Foundation, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) with technical support from the World Resources Institute (WRI, Washington) has written to the Prime Minister, urging that the following actions be taken to get Jamaica’s OGP action plan co-creation process back on track.
- Reaffirm the Government of Jamaica’s Commitment to Meeting its OGP Commitment
- Clarify the GOJ’s OGP Ministerial & Operational Point of Contact
- Establish Jamaica’s Multi-stakeholder Forum
We are still awaiting the Prime Minister’s Response. You can view the full letter here
JFJ launches new Human Rights project with funding from UNDEF
Jamaicans for Justice this year launched a new project called “Mainstreaming Justice: Redress for Marginalized Groups and Establishing National Human Rights Indicators in Jamaica”, with generous support from the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF). This project seeks to advance human rights at both the individual and national levels in Jamaica by:
- improving access to justice for specific marginalized persons
- implementing a human rights monitoring and planning tool called the Human Rights Indicator framework created by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
Under the “Mainstreaming Justice” project, Jamaicans for Justice provides legal support to marginalized victims of human rights violations across Jamaica – thereby strengthening the rule of law and human rights. Coupled with securing redress for individual violations, the project also sensitizes key stakeholders in the justice system (such as police, Justices of the Peace, prosecutors, and judges) to better understand and respect human rights, thereby reducing structural barriers to both the enjoyment of rights and justice for their violation.
At the national level, the project establishes a new approach to measuring human rights, by introducing UN-designed framework called “Human Rights Indicators” that are designed to produce a sophisticated, multi-functional way of determining the status of human right-compliance. The introduction of this system will strengthen Jamaica’s national human rights response by systematizing multi-sectoral human rights planning, funding, issue-identification, and measurement.
As the project progresses, JFJ will reduce barriers of accessibility by staging 3 legal aid clinics to promote legal literacy, provide legal consultation and advice and bring redress services directly to rural communities.
In each year of the project, JFJ will hold a human rights summit. The national human rights indicator framework will be launched at the first summit, along with an online platform for ongoing monitoring of human rights issues. At the second summit, JFJ will establish a national integrated human rights action plan for government, civil society organizations and international development partners to close gaps in compliance (based on information gathered from the implementation of Human Rights Indicators).
Reforming the Access to Information Process
When the Access to Information Act was passed in 2002, it was a major win for transparency and good governance in Jamaica. However, over the years there have been issues raised about the process – with delays, and unequal application across agencies being among the top complaints. Jamaicans for Justice is seeking to address some of these concerns with the newly launched Access to Information Project. This project aims to strengthen universal access to information in Jamaica by implementing a novel web-based platform to modernize and automate the process of submitting and tracking requests for information. Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) will collaborate with the Access to Information Unit to establish a web-based Access to Information portal and conduct baseline research on awareness of and compliance with the ATI regime in Jamaica.
Currently, there are ongoing consultations with various government and civil society representatives to determine the issues within the existing processes and protocols in carrying out an ATI request. Also, there is research currently being carried out to assess the current ATI system by unearthing any relevant trends in accessing information. The research will ultimately rate the compliance of the provisions outlined under the ATI Act by different entities and rate the level of effectiveness of each agency’s ATI process.
At the end of this project, JFJ aims to:
- reduce barriers to universal access to information in Jamaica; and
- systematize the monitoring of the ATI process by the government’s Access to Information Unit and other stakeholders.