She stressed that continuous training is required to remind individuals in varying professions for the need to maintain professionalism especially with marginalised groups.
"This training can only inure to improve services offered by the Jamaican Constabulary Force to the citizens of Jamaica," Ms Henry added sadly our same gender women in some recent cases cannot say that and as per usual launched initiatives, campaigns and trainings happen but implementation, continuation and monitoring has always been a challenge.
In as far as clash of rights from an LGBT standpoint where one journalist from NNN asked Ms Henry if some groups rights will supersede others, Miss Henry answered "I don't think it (LBGT populations) enjoys the rights that it ought to enjoy .........." she continued that there is continuous logging and recording of reports from various groups but she stressed the police has a duty under law to treat all citizens with dignity. She said that the Charter of Rights speaks to all persons owning their own rights and to preserve it for their families and future generations.
Some rights are absolute such the right to freedom or protection from torture when in police custody there is an absolute prohibition on any acts of torture while in the hands of the state.
She does not see a clash given the level of awareness and to guard such rights as applicable. "I come from a place that says that there is no room for discrimination, one against the other; we know that there are minority groups in Jamaica who may have a particular point of view; they have an entitlement to operate within that sphere."
She continued "That does not deny us our national identity; in other words by and large we are a heterosexual population but we must have respect for those who are not ..... it's a matter of engagement using set standards and principles that the state that we occupy on this island is shared in a way that each one is comfortable with the other; with mutual respect and dignity to all groups."
Ms Henry also spoke on camera on the matter:
Ms Henry raised the following at the training sessions:
Earlier in May USAID announced the activity:
The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing $330 million (US$3 million) in grant assistance to support targeted community activities under phase two of its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET II).
The Small Grants Program will provide direct funding support to community groups, faith-based organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and civil society organisations, to assist in strengthening local governance structures, and improving safety and security, particularly in volatile and vulnerable areas.
Provisions are also being earmarked to support the implementation of climate change adaptation activities, with focus on reducing the risk of disasters occurring, due to extreme weather patterns.
Three initial grants have been earmarked for allocation under the program. The first is $2.7 million to administer programs for “at risk” young people. The other two total just over $17.9 million to undertake youth and sports, skills trade, and vocational training programs.
While focus will be placed on providing support to the 25 communities where COMET II is being implemented, the small grants program will also be open for wider stakeholder participation, input, and benefit.
COMET II is $1.4 billion (US$13 million) community intervention initiative which USAID is implementing in the 25 communities across five parishes over the next five years, in partnership with the Government of Jamaica.
It is a continuation of work carried out under the program’s initial phase, between 2006 and 2013, in the 25 communities. These are among 100 communities targeted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) for social interventions, under its Community Renewal Programme (CRP).
COMET’s overall aim supports the Government’s objectives and key aspects of the country’s Vision 2030 Jamaica National Development Plan, which seeks to position the island to achieve developed country status within 16 years and, in the process, making it the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.
The COMET II Small Grants Program was formally launched by USAID Mission Director in Jamaica, Denise Herbol, during a ceremony. The occasion was also used to stage a climate change sensitisation session for participants attending the event, most of whom were from COMET II beneficiary communities.
In her remarks, Ms. Herbol said these engagements were “all about working with our communities and helping people.”
She noted that the extent of the USAID’s activities in Jamaica, over a number of years, has seen the agency establish a track record for promoting community safety and security; widening access to quality basic education; and increasing the resilience of targeted sectors, to climate change.
The Mission Director assured that under the USAID’s latest initiatives, “our emphasis remains an integrated approach to creating opportunities for secure livelihoods through a more cohesive, just, and healthy environment.”
In his remarks, Programme Director for the Planning Institute of Jamaica’s Community Renewal Programme (CRP), Charles Clayton, highlighted the importance of the COMET programme, particularly in complementing and assisting to advance work carried out under the CRP.
“The Community Renewal Programme is built on…partnerships…people working together in a coordinated way to bring about transformation in the (targeted) communities,” he stated.
Mr. Clayton pointed out that the COMET II programme focuses on such as security and safety, economic transformation, and the environment and climate change, offering, “(the) bridge that we all need…to re-unite our communities…and… make the changes that we need to see in our communities, to make a better Jamaica”.
Director of Governance at the Social Development Commission (SDC), Sherine Francis, said the COMET II grant programme and climate change sensitisation “signifies another important event towards advancing community development and building resilient communities.”
Reminder of the Police's Diversity Policy
The Jamaica Constabulary Force believes that all citizens of Jamaica and visitors to its shores have a right to be treated with dignity and respect irrespective of who they are or the particular grouping to which they belong; through the Jamaica Constabulary Force policy on diversity the organization has strived to ensure fair treatment of all in its service delivery.
It is the policy of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that all reports from any individual or group be handled in a manner which reflects the highest level of professionalism in respects to human rights and dignity, this should be done with a view to portraying a professional image of the police and enhancing positive relationships between the wider community and the police service.
Ms Henry has batted before at the crease several times prior to assuming the Public Defender's office leadership, one such memorable moment was with the now charged for perverting the course of justice one Reverend Al Miller:
RJR's Beyond the Headlines host Dionne Jackson Miller had Arlene Harrison Henry on Human Rights Day 2012 on the the removal of language in the form of sexual orientation on the Summary Executions UN Resolution - On November 21, 2012, Jamaica voted against resolution A/C.3/67/L.36 at the United Nations condemning extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions which urges States “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.
Hope that the trickle down effect from this and what appears to be future training sessions will be evidenced in real terms during the police precinct customer service engagement and subsequent follow-up where required.
Peace and tolerance
UPDATE June 22
RUNAWAY BAY, St Ann -- With two weekends of training seminars completed, members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) are expected to be more aware of the diverse groups in society and to better understand the safety and security issues facing them.
Fifty members of the JCF underwent two-day diversity training sessions at the Jewel Paradise Cove in St Ann over two weekends. Twenty-five members were trained in the first session with another 25 completed the training sessions yesterday.
The training sessions, which were held in partnership between the JCF and the USAID/COMET II project, saw the law enforcers being made aware of how to deal with vulnerable groups in carrying out their duties. The areas of focus were women and girls, people living with disabilities, marginalised youth and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Guest speaker at the opening ceremony on Friday, June 12, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry, commended the JCF for the creation and implementation of its diversity policy. She also praised the USAID for working with the JCF to host the training sessions.
"One size does not necessarily fit all," she pointed out, insisting that every Jamaican had her own expectations and deserves equal treatment, and so the policy was a positive step in that direction.
Harrison Henry said that the Jamaican legal framework has been slow to recognise the increasing diversity in the population. She called on participants in the training seminars to make use of the training which will enhance their professional and technical skills and which allow them to carry out their duties conscientiously.
"As public servants, sometimes we have to stop and reflect on who is the public that we serve," she said.
She reminded the police that to serve and to protect was not only a moral duty but also a legal one.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Dr Gary Welsh said the training is not only for the Community Safety and security Branch but for the entire JCF. However, focus is placed on members of the Community Safety Branch (CSSB) because they interface with the public on a daily basis.
He said that the police diversity policy was rolled out in 2012.
"This training now helps to empower our officers to understand the training and how to use it as a tool in delivering service to our various groups. The persons who have been selected have been picked from all divisions across the country so that when they go back they will be the trainers," Bishop Welsh said.
Members from Respect Jamaica also participated in the sessions.
"We partnered with the USAID because we felt that this initiative is here to serve and protect and is dealing with a diverse group of Jamaicans. If they understand how to deal with each group then that will strengthen their ability to serve and protect," said Anna-Kim Robinson, programme manager of Respect Jamaica.
Donaree Muirhead, training coordinator and community policing coordinator with the USAID Comet II, encouraged members of the JCF to approach the training with open minds. She urged them to put away preconceived conceptions and be willing to share their views on situations so that they will leave the training with clarity.
She said the objectives of the training sessions included raising the awareness of the police as it pertains to the nuances of the diverse groups in society, to better understand the safety and security issues and challenges facing the diverse groups to increase the capacity of the CSSB to develop interventions that are inclusive or are specific to the needs of diverse groups, to enable the police to maintain professionalism in the discharge of duties, to treat with dignity and respect, uphold and preserve the human rights of all irrespective of who the individual is or to which group a person belongs.
The training facilitators were experienced and recognised persons who are leading voices for the diverse groups.
They included Rochelle McFee of WE Change; Taitu Heron, UN Women Jamaica Programme; Gloria Goffe, Combined Disabilities Association, and Miguel Williams, programme development Specialist at the Ministry of Youth and Culture.