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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jamaican Police Officers Attacked Homeless Gay Men Inside Road Drains

Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica: Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Gays in Jamaica, or those suspected of being gay, are routinely victims of ill-treatment and harassment by the police, which occasionally leads to torture by the same force that is to serve and protect.[1] The latest of such attack occurred on October 15, 2013, at 7:00 p.m, when a large patrol of police officers beat and pepper sprayed a group of homeless gays as well as set their belongings on fire in Kingston Jamaica.

According to CVM TV News Watch, “St Andrew Central police launched a crackdown against youths  who they said are unruly gay men, in new Kingston. Several items of clothing as well as utensils and belongings to the men were burned in a gully where some of them lived near Trafalgar road. The men fled on the approach of the security team but slowly return to see their belongings going up in smoke. The youths could be heard pleading and begging for urgent assistance.”[2]


20-year-old Marlondo, a homeless gay man and one of the victims assaulted by the police, reported that,” I was inside the gully with about twenty of my gay colleagues when I heard one of them shouted Police! Police! I was naked and I did not believe that Police was there until I look up and see the blue flashing lights, so I hastily put on my clothes and was about t climb out of the gully when I saw the police jumped out of the vehicle so I turn back and ran inside the gully. The police cornered me at the opposite side of the gully between Scotia building and Island Car Rental on Trafalgar Road where they used pepper spray on us, as well as beat two (2) of my friends.” Similar stories of arbitrary detention and harassment by police officers are often not investigated.[3]

Anika Gray, an Attorney-at-law, was shocked at the hostility the police displayed towards these men, three of whom were brave enough to show up at the police station the following day to file a report. “The officers flatly refused to take the report of the alleged attack by the other officers claiming that it had to be handled by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM),” said Miss Gray.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received information which indicates that in some instances, police are also perpetrators of violence, threatening and beating individuals suspected of being gay.  Police abuse has reportedly led to mob killings or other violence, and there are accounts of men who are suspected of having sex with men who have had to flee their homes out of fear of being attacked after police abuse prompted violence by private community actors.  Police violence not only reaffirms the message to the gay community that there is no recourse to justice and gay men can will get no protection from the state, but it is often a catalyst for further violence and abuse from the rest of the community.[4]

For several years, young gay men who have been, beaten and chased out of their communities by their families and neighbors have been living inside the city’s drains, gullies and underground tunnels, where sewage and waste water continuously flows. Underground sewage plants and drains are no place for human domicile. With no help from the government and the wider society, homeless gay men rely on each other to survive.

These young men are constantly hiding underground to avoid prosecution from state security forces that threatens to beat and arrest them for loitering within the corporate area of Kingston. A recent incident within the corporate area, saw homeless young gay man was set on fire then thrown into a gully and left to burn by unknown assailants January 24, 2013.[5] Without any collaborative evidence, the police superintendent concludes that the victim attackers were his gay peers.

The insistent harassment and constant violence against persons based on their sexual orientation by armed police forces goes against any human’s rights as a citizen of his or her country. The freedom from arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel inhumane treatment by the government and its agents are non-exist within the LBGTQ community living in Jamaica.

How long will the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  continue to watch Jamaica and its ruling government breach international human rights laws by beating, terrorizing, and arbitrarily detaining suspected and known homosexuals?


Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica:Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica:Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)






































Citations: 


[2] CVM TV News Watch (From 12:42-13:33) mins http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=2065&section=watch
[3] Country Report on Human Rights Practices (2011) http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/186737.pdf
[4] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 2012 Report on Jamaica http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/pdf/Jamaica2012eng.pdf
[5] Homeless Gay Youth Set Ablaze in Sleep And Left to Burn: Jamaica http://www.minority-insight.org/2013/09/homeless-gay-youth-set-ablaze-in-sleep.html  




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