Published: Dicember 2005
Murder of Jamaican HIV Activist Steve Harvey, Action needed from UNAIDS, PAHO, and PANCAP
December 5th, 2005
Dear Friends at PAHO, UNAIDS, and PANCAP:
Below are two documents regarding the murder of Jamaican AIDS activist Steve Harvey last week on the eve of World AIDS day.
1) a statement from Human Rights Watch regarding the killing of Mr. Harvey
2) a news article that has appeared on a Caribbean list serve serving the HIV+ community.
Mr. Harvey was also a leader in the Jamaican Gay Community as the news article indicates.
There is no information provided from either article that the murder of Mr. Harvey was a "hate crime" as such. But there is good reason to believe that, since homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, and because of the stigma and discrimination surrounding both AIDS and homosexuality, that the Police force in Jamaica might not investigate this murder as fully as possible, since it involved the murder of a gay man who was also HIV+.
It is URGENT that UNAIDS, PAHO, and PANCAP issue a statement deploring the murder of Mr. Harvey and suggesting that his murder must be fully investigated by the Jamaican government and that his killers must be brought to justice. This statement could be addressed to the Prime Minister of Jamaica and publicized through a press conference. A joint statement from the three Agencies could get world wide attention.
This statement could come at a crucial moment, since just a few weeks ago, the subject
of legalizing homosexuality in Jamaica was brought up in the Jamaican parliament, although
apparently an overwhelming majority of Parliamentarians were apparently against putting the issue on parliament's agenda. This might be a moment to help Parliament to recognize the urgency of
Another urgent reason for a statement from PAHO, UNAIDS, and PANCAP is related to the whole panorama of Civil Society AIDS activism in the Caribbean, where the specter of violence continues to be a factor in intimidating HIV+ and/or gay people from engaging in the kind of community based activism, which is so necessary for an adequate response to the AIDS epidemic in this region.
I believe it is appropriate that UNAIDS, PAHO, and PANCAP respond swiftly with a public statement.
Agua Buena Human Rights Association
San Jose, Costa Rica.
HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH
Jamaica: HIV/AIDS Activist Steve Harvey Mourned
(New York, December 1, 2005) - Human Rights Watch mourns the death of Steve
Harvey, a leading Jamaican HIV/AIDS activist who worked tirelessly to defend
the health and human rights of people living with and at high-risk of
Harvey, 30, was found dead early in the morning of November 30. According to
Jamaican police, at least four assailants forced their way into Harvey's
home when he returned from work around 1 a.m. They tied up Harvey and two
people staying with him, stole a number of their possessions, and abducted
Harvey in the company car. Harvey was found with gunshot wounds in his back
and head in a rural area miles from his home.
For more than a decade, Harvey was a leader in the struggle to defend the
health and human rights of people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS.
He worked with Jamaica AIDS Support since 1997, and represented the
interests of marginalized people and people living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica
and throughout the region.
"Steve Harvey was a person of extraordinary bravery and integrity, who worked tirelessly to ensure that some of Jamaica's most marginalized people
had the tools and information to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS," said
Rebecca Schleifer, researcher with the HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program at
Human Rights Watch and author of a recent report on anti-gay violence and
HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. "I have seen the impact of Steve's work firsthand, and
been inspired by his courage and capacity to reach out to and make a
profound difference in the lives of Jamaicans affected by HIV/AIDS. His
death on the eve of World AIDS Day gives us one more reason to pause and
reflect on the significance of activists' work in the fight against AIDS."
As Kingston coordinator of targeted interventions for Jamaica AIDS Support,
Harvey was responsible for ensuring that the most marginalized of
Jamaicans-gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals; sex workers;
prisoners-were ensured access to HIV/AIDS information and services. For his
extraordinary talent and hard work, he was chosen as Jamaica's
representative to the Latin America and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service
Organizations. He was also a registered delegate to the People's National
"Steve Harvey's death is an enormous loss," Schleifer said. "But it is
essential that his murder does not succeed in intimidating other human
rights workers. It is vital that the Jamaican government condemns this
brutal crime, and brings the perpetrators to justice."
HIV/AIDS and Human Rights Program
Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, New York 10118
Sent: Thursday, December 01, 2005 9:43 PM
Subject: [hivaidscaribbean] Jamaican HIV defender murdered on eve of World AIDS Day
Jamaican HIV defender murdered on eve of World AIDS Day /01.12.05
Steve Harvey from Christian Aid partner, Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), has been murdered. He ran a programme providing support to gay men and sex workers.
Three men, armed with guns, broke into Mr Harvey´s house and demanded money. They then forced him to carry valuables into the JASL car parked outside.
One of the gun men was reported to have said to Mr Harvey and his two house-mates: `We hear that you are gay´. Two of the men denied it. They were tied up and left in the house. Steve was forced into the car which then sped away. Two hours later, he was found, shot dead.
Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. With a population of only 2.7 million people, the country has seen 1,383 murders in 2005 alone. Gun violence is common and homophobia rife.
Victims of homophobic violence are often too scared to appeal to the police for protection. According to Human Rights Watch: `Police actively support homophobic violence, fail to investigate complaints of abuse, and arrest and detain [men] based on their alleged homosexual conduct.´
Last year, the founder of Jamaica´s gay rights movement, Brian Williamson, was murdered. Investigators claimed the motive for murder was robbery, since a safe was missing and the apartment ransacked. However, many believe the killing was a hate crime.
Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica: men convicted of homosexual activity can face ten years´ imprisonment with hard labour.
A Christian Aid spokesperson said: 'JASL defends the rights of people who are not considered to have any rights in Jamaica. The work they do is very dangerous.'
Human Rights Watch also states: `Jamaica´s growing HIV/AIDS epidemic is unfolding in the context of widespread violence and discrimination against people living with and at high risk of HIV/AIDS, especially men who have sex with men.´
An estimated 1.5 per cent of Jamaicans are living with HIV/AIDs. Although two thirds of HIV transmission is through heterosexual sex, many people still blame gay men for spreading the virus.
On Sunday, Mr Harvey led JASL´s annual candle-lit vigil in memory of those killed by HIV. JASL is now mourning the death of one of their strongest defendants of people living with HIV/AIDS.
un eng III