Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness signaled his intention to seek an end to corporal punishment in schools and state entities; he also wants it outlawed at home. He says it is time the issue of ending corporal punishment across Jamaica be debated in Parliament. Personally, I wonder what is taking so long. In 2012, Justice Minister Mark Golding argued that slavery-era flogging was a “degrading” punishment and an anachronism that violated the island’s international obligations. Caribbean 360 reports:
Holness’ comments in Parliament yesterday came against the background of a recent UNICEF report, ‘A Familiar Face: Violence in the Lives of Children and Adolescents’ which noted that eight in ten Jamaican children in the two to 14 age group experience violence as a form of discipline. “While it is not a consensus across the aisle or even a consensus within the political parties about banning corporal punishment totally in the country, I wish to declare that I am totally against corporal punishment,” he said, adding that that corporal punishment does not align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) under the United Nations Development Programme.
“It is a matter that we would have to debate here, but I think the time has come. With such a report, with our commitment to the SDGs, I don’t see how we can maintain this aspect of our culture and claim that we want to advance as a modern, civilized society.”
The Prime Minister added that outlawing corporal punishment would be a “forward-leaning step” towards taking a stand against violence generally and would send a powerful message about the State respecting the inviolability of the person, whether child or adult.
It was during his contribution to the Budget debate earlier this year that Holness announced his government would amend the Education Act to prohibit corporal punishment in schools. And during his address to Parliament yesterday, he reiterated the commitment to banning corporal punishment in all government institutions.