KINGSTON, Jamaica -- (AP) -- -- An increase in fatal shootings by police is setting back efforts to curb violence and build faith in the Caribbean nation's justice system, Amnesty International said Tuesday. A report by the London-based group said the killings reflect a disregard for human rights in the island's inner cities, where residents are cut off from many basic services and violent gang leaders often hold more influence than government authorities.
Still, the report praised a series of reforms the government has proposed since last year, when an Amnesty report found the island of 2.8 million has one of the highest rates of police killings in the Western Hemisphere.
"The outlook for Jamaica is still grim," said Kerrie Howard, Amnesty's deputy director for the Americas. "What is different now is that we finally see initiatives that might lead to real change."
Karl Angell, a spokesman for the Jamaica Constabulary Force, said the positives in the report reflect recent anti-corruption efforts. But he said he could not comment on the killings by police before reviewing the report further.
Police killed 84 people through the first five months of the year -- an increase of 58 percent from the same period last year, according to the report. It said there have been no convictions of a police officer since 2006 despite evidence that shootings involved excessive force, with some amounting to executions.
Six officers have also been killed in the line of duty so far this year.
Police commissioner Hardley Lewin said earlier this year that he planned new training because the use-of-force policy had been widely ignored inside the 8,000-member force.
Jamaica recorded 1,611 murders last year, ranking it among the world's most violent countries. Police say the vast majority of killings can be traced to heavily armed gangs that battle for control of drug-trafficking and extortion rackets.