Calling all concerned Rastafarians and supporters of Human Rights to sign this unified global protest demanding the Government of Jamaica to take immediate concrete action to address the ongoing harassment and gross violations of human rights plaguing the Rastafari movement.
We are seeking a minimum of 15,000 signatures to get action through the Prime Minister of Jamaica on the 10 specific Demandments outlined in this Petition to ensure the freedom and rights of Rastafari which are now under serious attack.
Call To Action
We the undersigned International Coalition of Concerned Rastafarians and supporters of international Human Rights, hereby stand in unified global protest to demand that the Prime Minister of Jamaica take immediate action to address the continued and unabated harassment and gross violations of Human Rights that have plagued the Rastafari Movement from the beginning of the Movement in the 1930s, until this so-called Jamaican “Emancipation” and “Independence” week in August when freedom and rights of Rastafarians remain under attack.
The on-going harassment and persecution by the Jamaica constabulary force has radically and unacceptably infringed on the constitutional rights of Rastafarians. This has included:
1) the most recent trimming of the third generation young Rastafarian Nyahbingi princess Nzinga King who was unjustly trimmed of her locks while in custody at the Four Paths Police station in the parish of Clarendon, Jamaica on July 22 2021.
2) the continued denial of the Rights to Education for Rastafarian children in Jamaican schools due to their wearing of locks, including the 2018 barring of admittance of a 5-year old girl in Kensington Primary school in Kingston and subsequent 2020 high court ruling giving rights to the school to demand that the girl cut her dreadlocks to attend class.
3) the continued raids of Rastafari homes and farms; mercenary seizing/stealing of packages of sacremental ganja and related equipment; extortion and resale of ganja seized; illegal detention of members of the community with no charge; disruption of Rastafari ceremonies and desecration of Rastafari sacramental spaces and regular physical and verbal abuse meted out by the police, despite the Amendment of the Dangerous Drugs Act in 2015 and decriminalization of the possession and use of marijuana. This International Coalition of Concerned Rastafarians and Defenders of Human Rights acknowledge that these violations are in breach of the human, constitutional and indigenous rights of Rastafarians in relation to specific provision of International Human Rights charters including:
- the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948;
- the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966;
- the International Covenant on Cultural, Economic and Social Rights, 1966
- the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, 2007;
- the specific standards and practices for the Police force in any nation outlined by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2004
In light of the multiple violations of the above Human Rights instruments and against the intolerable offensive that Jamaican public and private sector entities continue to exploit Rastafari culture and image as a main tourism product and promotional strategy, we the undersigned make the following 10 Demandments of the Government of Jamaica:
1) THAT Immediate actions be taken to ensure that the recent violation of May Pen police officer be used as a precedent and public example that such inhuman acts inflicted by members of the constabulary force will not be tolerated or repeated. These actions must include:
- Issuance of a public statement by the Minister of National Security and/or Commissioner of Police to acknowledge the on-going wrong doings and Human Rights violation of the constabulary force towards Rastafari.
- Immediate Disciplinary action, including Termination of Service, of any Police Officer of the Jamaica Constabulary Force found to be violating Rastafarian Human and/or Indigenous rights and most immediately the Police Officer implicated in the Princess Nzinga case.
- Commitment to and initiation of a process of recourse including suspension, rehabilitation and re-training of any superior officer on duty committing any act in violation of Rastarfari Human, Constitutional and/or Indigenous Rights, starting with the senior police officers both committing and being on supervisory duty during the time of the violation of Princess Nzinga.
- A formal apology to Princess Nzinga, her family and the Rastafari community.
- Substantive financial compensation for the young victim of police violation and her family.
2) THAT a Code of Conduct on Rastafari Human and Indigenous Rights be issued and distributed to every Police Division and Police Station before the end of 2021.
3) THAT the Government of Jamaica Amend the Education Act to ensure that no student is barred from admission or attendance at any educational institution on the basis of any form of hairstyle whether on cultural or religious grounds in contravention of fundamental Human Rights to be put into effect before the end of 2022.
4) THAT an Immediate amnesty/moratorium be instituted to cease the range of infringements of constitutional rights and to ensure members of the Rastafari faith have unmolested freedom to plant, transport, distribute and accept contributions for marijuana at point of sacramental distribution.
5) THAT the Ministry of Justice provide formal recognition of the traditional Rastafari regulatory system for individuals, Mansions, organizations and sacred spaces.
6) THAT a comprehensive human rights training programme for the police force and public awareness campaign for the public to make explicitly clear the rights and privileges of the Rastafari community under the current provisions of the law drawing on curriculum modules already developed by representatives of the Rastafari movement.
7) THAT stiff sanctions and penalties are issued for police authorities found to be harassing or persecuting Rastafarians and other citizens or engaging in acts extortion.
8) THAT the Ministry of National Security expunge all sentences for Rastafarians and other citizens who were convicted soley for possession or cultivation of ganja.
9) THAT special exemption be ensured to permit the sale of ganja by Rastafarians at Rastafari Sacramental sites for sacremental purposes.
10) THAT Tax exemption in perpetuity be given for all Rastafari ganja initiatives providing employment and livelihood opportunities for Rastafari and grass roots communities as compensation for the years of aggression and abuse of Human Rights of Rastafarians and grassroots peoples for cultivation, possession and use of ganja.
In observance of the Articles and provisions of the afore-mentioned International Human Rights charters and in line with the 10 Demandments outlined in this petition, the undersigned Coalition of Concerned Rastafarians and Defenders of Human Rights, demand the Jamaican government to ensure that the fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in the referenced Human Rights Declarations are applied and become an assured reality for all Rastafarians.