Democracy and rights
Government power regularly shifts through
elections in Jamaica, which is a relatively stable
democracy. In terms of freedom of the press, Jamaica is
ranked alongside countries in Western Europe and the
highest of all countries in the Western Hemisphere.
However, corruption is a serious social problem, as are
the links between politicians and organized crime, and
the widespread violent crime.
Gang crime has long had political dimensions.
Violence generally increases in election times. Many
gang leaders had previous ties to one of the two major
parties (see Political system), which in the 1970s
equipped them with weapons. In return, the gang leaders
made sure the voters in their district voted for the
"right" party. Now several leagues appear to act without
political links (see below).
Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Jamaica, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Violence and harassment against women and LGBT people
are common (see Social conditions). Representatives of
the women's movement and persons who have been subjected
to sex-based violence have in recent years carried out
protest actions against the widespread impunity for such
In Transparency International's (TI) index of
corruption, Jamaica ranks 74th out of 180 countries and
territories. It is a better location than many Latin
American countries but worse than many of the small
Caribbean states that are also former British colonies
(the list is available here). TI notes that not much has
changed in recent years despite the government's stated
intention to curb corruption.
Freedom of expression and media
The constitution guarantees freedom of the press and
opinion and the media can for the most part act free
from political interference. Criticism against the
country's rulers is often in the media.
In election times, journalists are often subjected to
various kinds of pressure, mainly threats from criminal
street gangs with ties to the political parties. But in
general, freedom of the press is good. The possibility
of prosecution for slander was removed in 2013, although
the person being sued for slander can be sentenced to
Occasional physical attacks against journalists
occur, but no case of serious violence or threat to
media freedom has been reported since 2009 (when two
cases of police abuse occurred).
Jamaica is ranked in honorable 6th place by 180
countries in the Press Freedom Index of World Countries
compiled by Reporters Without Borders (full list
Judicial system and legal security
The judicial system is ineffective and overloaded and
legal processes are often lengthy. Human rights
organizations regularly report abuse and torture of
prisoners in Jamaica's overcrowded prisons. Many interns
are detained for long periods without prosecution.
The death penalty can be punished for murder. A
20-year moratorium on the death penalty was abolished by
Parliament in 2008, but despite that, no one has been
executed since 1988.
For a number of years, Jamaica has been ranked fifth
in the world in terms of number of homicides per
inhabitant. Just over half of the murders lead to
arrests and only 7 percent to conviction. It contributes
to a lack of confidence in the justice system and leads
to the formation of the citizenry, which in turn
increases the violence. But a decrease was noted in 2018
compared to the previous year, which according to the
government was due to the establishment of special zones
(Zones of Special Operation, Zoso) in which the military
helps in police operations.
During large parts of 2018, there were emergency
permits in two districts, Saint James and Saint
Catherine North because of the violence (see Calendar).
Many of the murders constitute settlements between
criminal gangs, but the security forces are also guilty
of extrajudicial executions of suspected criminals.
Nowhere else in the world are so many civilians shot to
death by the police and the army in relation to the
crowd. Imprisonment is widespread: suspected murderers
and soldiers are almost always free from prosecution.
During the period 2000–2016, more than 3,000 people were
shot to death by the police, most of them young men,
according to Amnesty International.