The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) is continuing efforts to sensitise stakeholders in the justice system across the region about the human rights of members of key population groups. The latest sensiitisation sessions took place in Jamaica with police officers and justices of the peace from the parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew.
The two day session was aimed at sensitising justice stakeholders on protecting the rights of vulnerable populations including LGBT persons while helping them to better deliver services, effectively respond to complaints, and provide redress to members of key population groups.
The training session consisted of several interactive presentations and practical exercises which actively engaged participants in applying sensitive and inclusive principles in their work.
Some topics discussed included:
- Identifying how human rights issues (ex. HIV and gender-based violence) affect vulnerable populations through perpetuated stigma and discrimination
- Reviewing international agreements that protect key populations and national policies that adversely affect them
- Understanding how to apply a survivor-centered approach in service delivery
- Developing initiatives to mitigate challenges faced by key populations seeking justice/redress
Woman Constable Shellion Clemmings from the St. Andrew Central Police Division attended the two day session and pointed out that the topics covered exposed her to new ways of thinking in her approach to dealing with members of vulnerable communities. “My two days were great. I got to learn a lot that I did not know. Some topics were very interesting, so I got to learn some things that I thought I knew, but I really did not know. Because I did not understand much about how to approach certain situations and how to approach individuals of certain backgrounds. This training now helps me to help them better because I now better understand how to interact with these individuals,” she said.
The woman constable noted that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has a diversity policy which outlines how to deal with members of key population groups. “In the JCF we actually have a diversity policy, but to actually have CVC come and explain more about it, is good. So we can now use the training that we got from the JCF and this now from CVC to better do our jobs,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile Kingston Justice of the Peace (JP) Sheldon Graham said the sessions were informative and provided useful resources to help him better help individuals. “What was presented, especially the mapping of services and the referral pathways are two interesting tools that once adopted should help more persons get positive results from the systems in place. The referrals are more pointed, so you will be able to point them in the right direction to help them get the best redress,” he said. Additionally, the JP is calling on the police high command to support CVC’s initiatives by making more police officers of varying ranks available to participate in and benefit from the human rights training sessions being offered.
In the meantime, CVC Community Paralegal George Young who coordinated the two day session reiterated the importance of the sessions. “In trying to safeguard the rights of members of the vulnerable communities it is important to ensure that we help these service providers to remain professional when dealing members of vulnerable groups. These sessions are having a positive impact. A member of the community recently related a story to me about a positive interaction with a member of the police force that left a positive impact on them as they are now seeing the police in a different light. That is what a session like this helps to get police officers to take on board the best practices,” he said.