Political violence between People's National Party and Jamaica Labour Party members, 1995-August 1999, including any security forces involvement; political killings in the area of Breaton (Phase 1), St. Catherine, January-March 1996; availability of state protection [JAM33392.E]

Violence has been a feature of the Jamaican political landscape for many years (Newsday 6 Mar. 1995; The Jamaica Observer 15 July 1999). Political violence accelerated in the 1970s when the main political parties, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), became increasingly polarized and began arming their supporters with guns (The Toronto Star 28 Apr. 1996; Newsday 6 Mar. 1995). Newsday has described the years 1975-1980 as "the most violent period in Jamaica's history" (ibid.). An estimated 600 to 900 people died in the run-up to the 1980 election (The Toronto Star 28 Apr. 1996; AP 9 May 1997). However, election-related violence had decreased substantially by the 1989 and 1993 elections (The Toronto Star 28 Apr. 1996).

In the lead-up to the 1997 election, JLP leader Edward Seaga accused the PNP government of using the security forces as instruments of "political terrorism," and predicted the government would "use the security forces to terrorize opposition strongholds in the forthcoming general election" (AP 9 May 1997; ibid. 6 June 1997; LARR 10 June 1997). Despite Seaga's prediction the 18 December 1997 election proved to be the "most peaceful in decades," with only five election-related shootings and three deaths (The Salt Lake Tribune 21 Dec. 1997; CNN 28 Oct. 1998; VOA 19 Dec. 1997; BBC News 17 Dec. 1997). Following the election Prime Minister P.J. Patterson promised to end political violence in Jamaica (The Salt Lake Tribune 21 Dec. 1997), and one report indicates that he has been largely successful (CNN 28 Oct. 1998).

Information on state protection is scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. Several sources commented on serious problems within the police force, including corruption, inefficiency, poor training, lack of concern for human rights and a reputation for being "trigger-happy" (Latinamerica Press 15 Feb. 1996; Weekly News Update on the Americas 18 July 1999; The New Republic 16 Aug. 1999; AI Mar. 1999). Amnesty International has noted ongoing "concerns about the quality of the administration of justice and lack of provision of qualified legal aid in most cases," and quoted the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Committee as stating that "the justice system [in Jamaica] is not working properly" (ibid.). One media report describes the Jamaican judicial system as "dysfunctional" (The Orlando Sentinel 1 Aug. 1999).

For further information on state protection in Jamaica, please consult Country Reports 1998, available in Regional Documentation Centres.

No reports of political killings in the area of Breaton (Phase 1), St. Catherine, in the period January-March 1996 could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Amnesty International (AI). March 1999. Unacceptably Limiting Human Rights Protection. (AI Index: AMR 05/01/99). London: Amnesty International.

The Associated Press (AP). 6 June 1997. Lloyd Williams. "Senator Calls for Inquiry Into Killings Blamed on Security Forces." (NEXIS)

_____. 9 May 1997. Lloyd Williams. "Senate Debates Investigation of Clashes That Left Four Dead." (NEXIS)

BBC News. 17 December 1999. "World: Americas: Jimmy Carter Issues Appeal to Jamaicans." http://news1.this.bbc.co.uk/hi/eng/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 1999]

Cable News Network (CNN). 28 October 1998. "Jamaican Parliament Firebombed." http://cnn.co.uk/WORLD/americas/9810/27/AM-BRF--Jamaica-Firebomb.ap/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 1999]

The Jamaica Observer [Kingston]. 15 July 1999. Jeffrey Mordecai. "Finding a Permanent Solution to Political Tribalism and Political Violence." http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ [Accessed 10 Dec. 1999]

Latinamerica Press [Lima]. 15 February 1996. Vol. 28, No. 5. "Jamaica: The Incorrigible Police Force."

Latin American Regional Reports (LARR):Caribbean and Central America Report [London]. 10 June 1997. "Back to the Bad Old Days?: Sectarian Violence Rears Its Head as Elections Approach." (NEXIS)

The New Republic [Washington, DC]. 16 August 1999. Ed Vulliamy. "Roots of Violence." (NEXIS)

Newsday [New York]. 6 March 1995. City Edition. "The Jamaican Posses 'Had Nothing to Lose'." (NEXIS)

The Orlando Sentinel. 1 August 1999. "Sun, Reggae-and 505 Killings; Jamaicans are Living Under a Dark Cloud of 'Criminal Madness'." (NEXIS)

The Salt Lake Tribune. 21 December 1997. Tom Harvey. "Budget Battle Moves Mexico to Democracy." (NEXIS)

The Toronto Star. 28 April 1996. 2nd edition. Linda Diebel. "Dodging Bullets in Jamaica's War Zone." (NEXIS)

Voice of America (VOA). 19 December 1997. Jim Teeple. "Jamaica Election Results." gopher://gopher.voa.gov:70/00/newswire/fri/JAMAICA_ELECTION_RESULTS [Accessed 19 Dec. 1997]

Weekly News Update on the Americas [New York]. 18 July 1999. No. 494. "Jamaican Troops Deploy to Poor Neighborhoods." wnu@igc.apc.org [Accessed 19 July 1999]

Additional Sources Consulted

Amnesty International Jamaica country file

International Media Database (IMD).


Research Directorate Jamaica country file.

World News Connection (WNC).

Internet sources including:

Amnesty International

Derechos Human Rights.

Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The Jamaica Gleaner [Kingston].

The Jamaica Observer [Kingston].

Jamaican Politics.

Jamaica Today.

The New York CaribNews.

Political Parties, Interest Groups and Other Movements.

UK Home Office country assessments.