Two Gay Violence Files Located
At the end of October, Marion Edwards, the Access to Information officer with this ministry sent me an email responding to my request for any files on violence against gay Jamaicans. Part of her reply said:
Having researched the relevant files, we regret to inform you that such records do not reside within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade. However, I will refer your request to the Ministry of National Security which has primary responsibility for matters of this nature.
Sounded very clear to me that no records responsive to my request were found last month. But now, such records have been located. Edwards sent another letter today, in which she informs me of some good news:
Further to your application dated 30th October 2009 and received on even date, for copies of any and all records from January 2004 to 30th October 2009, related to human rights violation of “gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, or other persons perceived to be such”, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is pleased to grant you access to the following documents:
1. Report on the Panel Discussion “Homophobic Violence in Jamaica: Culture, Dialogue and Resistance” Thursday 17th February, New Theatre (E171), East Building, London School of Economics and Politics. 9 pages.
2. An e-mail sent from Mr. Karl Angell to Wilton Dwyer, re the murder of Steve Harvey, a worker with Jamaica Aids Support. 1 page.
You may also wish to visit the United States – Department of State’s website, where country reports on Human Rights Practices in Jamaica are posted.
Grateful you indicate the format in which you require the information.
Edwards mentioned nothing about the switch from October to November and the retrieval of the files that weren't located a few weeks back, so I wrote back to her asking how the ministry failed to find the records, and how can I be certain there aren't more files in the archive. I also asked that the two files be emailed to me as a PDF.
In terms of what located, interesting that the bulk of the few pages is devoted to a meeting in London, and a single page of an email about the brutal murder of a gay rights advocate in Jamaica. Regardless of the skimpy files, I look forward to reading the contents of all the pages.
I'm also surprised the letter instructs me to read the American government's annual human rights reports on Jamaica, which offer ample evidence of the violence gay Jamaicans suffer, and the outrageous lack of government prosecution in many crimes against gay people.
Once Edwards sends me the files, I'll share them.