Human Rights Watch condemns killing of Jamaican transgender teenager

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Jamaica to conduct a “thorough, impartial and effective investigation” into last month’s killing of a transgender teenager.

In a statement released on Thursday, HRW, who are based in New York, said Jamaican authorities needed to send an “unequivocal message that there will be zero tolerance for violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people”.

Dwayne Jones was stabbed multiple times and shot at a party in the suburban parish of St James in July.

Jones was wearing female clothing at the time of the incident and local media say the 17-year-old was attacked after a female attendee told a group Jones was male.

Justice Minister Mark Golding has condemned the killing, saying police “must spare no effort” in finding the killers.

Jamaica is widely known for having a major problem with transphobic and homophobic violence.

In 2011, Oshane Gordon, a 16-year-old teenager, was brutally hacked to death by men who conducted an early morning raid of the small dwelling that he shared with his mother.

Jamaican station CVM TV reported that Oshane was killed because of “questionable relations” with another man.

At least nine homophobic killings occurred on the island last year.

In October, Dane Lewis, director of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s only LGBT rights lobby group, said: “The violence in Jamaica is having a spillover effect on other parts of the Caribbean: St Lucia now has a murder or so every year.”

The Jamaican criminal code prohibits sex between men and sentences for buggery can include 10 years imprisonment with hard labour.