To counter-balance the client-based work of the Response Team/Legal Department and to fulfill its vision of effecting change in Jamaica’s political, social and economic systems, JFJ has developed a proactive human rights education and advocacy programme.
Human Rights Education in Schools
Human rights education is delivered at the high school level through our education project developed for students and teachers in Jamaican schools. The content and nature of the school’s programme help prepare young people to become rounded and productive adult citizens by fostering attitudes that will lead to good practices and respect for human rights. ‘Cry for Justice’, a 22-minute human rights education DVD-Video produced by Jamaicans for Justice, serves as a teacher’s guide to the project’s format, and students and teachers are encouraged to be ambassadors for human rights by sharing human rights information and knowledge with other students, teachers, family members, friends and the community. Engaging youth in human rights dialogue is a proactive approach to improving Jamaica’s human rights environment and creating healthier, safer communities in which to live and prosper.
Human Rights Training with Police Recruits
Legal Advice Workshops
The legal advice sessions are conducted by JFJ’s attorneys in inner-city communities, bringing to the fore, core human and constitutional rights issues mainly pertaining to circumstances involving police and citizen relations. Of particular focus are instances involving personal, home and vehicular searches, detention, arrest, duty counsel and bail. JFJ has produced a comprehensive ‘Know Your Rights’ DVD-Video that illustrates these scenarios and outlines both the rights and responsibilities of citizens in these situations and also provides information regarding avenues for redress when breaches occur. Following each legal advice session, JFJ’s attorney facilitates private consultations with community residents who have personal matters for which they need assistance.
Social and Economic Justice Workshops
The Social and Economic Justice (SEJ) portfolio aims to furnish citizens with the requisite tools needed for their development and empowerment in the realisation of economic and social rights (ESRs). Included in the programme is the education of community residents in human rights particularly ESRs; community problems are assessed and leaders are trained in leadership and advocacy planning. Through the SEJ programme, JFJ partners with various working groups to bring about improvements in social conditions and services such as adult literacy, access to water, response from state agencies and environmental practices.
Access to Information
JFJ has been a lead organisation in promoting awareness of citizens’ rights to access public sector information from 2001 with the tabling of the Access to Information (ATI) bill in Parliament which was passed one year later.
The organisation sees ATI as a vital and necessary tool for the realisation and preservation of all other fundamental human rights. It is a particularly useful tool for empowering ordinary citizens to demand and achieve accountability and transparency in the operations of government, especially as it relates to the equitable provision of services at the individual and community levels.
JFJ’s ATI programme is currently being carried out in conjunction with the Social and Economic Justice (SEJ) portfolio as part of the training given to community residents to develop their advocacy skills. Citizens are assisted with gaining information from government ministries and agencies using the ATI Act. There is also a joint stakeholder lobbying component of the programme where partnerships are struck in order to monitor and evaluate the implementation and administration of the ATI Act. The Access to Information Advisory Stakeholders’ Committee (ATIASC), of which JFJ is a member, assists in this process and provides recommendations to the government on its implementation of the Act.
JFJ’s radio programme, the Community Lawyer, is hosted by the organisation’s attorneys and emanates from the inner-city, to the inner-city, via ROOTS 96.1FM every Friday. The one hour programme brings important rights-based issues to the fore by raising awareness, educating and thus giving people an opportunity to empower themselves. The programme is formatted via discussions with guests who possess expertise in their respective fields and facilitates community participation from a call-in line.
To dovetail and enhance JFJ’s public education efforts, public service announcements (PSAs) on various human rights issues are developed for television and radio broadcast. JFJ has also produced special media products such as documentaries and television series to strengthen its human rights campaign efforts.