The Co -operative Republic of Guyana is a multiparty democracy with a
population of approximately 760,000. President Bharrat Jagdeo was reelected to a
second full term in 2006 elections that international observers considered generally
free and fair . President Jagdeo ‘s People ‘s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) has been
the majority party in Parliament since 1992. Security forces reported to civilian
The principal human rights abuses were complaints of unlawful killings by police,
mis treatment of suspects and detainees by security forces, poor prison and jail
conditions, and lengthy pretrial detention. Other problems included allegations of
government corruption, including among police officials, and sexual and domestic
violence agains t women and abuse of minors.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
The government or its agents did not commit any politically motivated killings;
however, the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) received 13 complaints of
unlawful killings .
On June 7, police officers, responding to a disturbance at a high school , shot and
killed 16 -year -old student Kelvin Fraser. The police said Fraser was shot during a
scuffle, while an eyewitness said that Fraser was fleeing the scene at the time he
was shot. A post -mortem examination found that Fraser died of shock and
hemorrhage from tra uma caused by gunshots fired at close range. On June 28,
authorities charged police officer Quancy John with the murder. He was remanded
to prison, and the case was transferred to the Wales Magistrate’s Court and was
pending at year’s end.
There were no kn own developments in the investigation by the Office of the
Director of Public Prosecutions in the April 2009 fatal shooting by an off -duty
member of the Presidential Guard.
Murder charges remained pending against three on -duty members of the Coast
Guard f or the August 2009 killing of businessman Dweive Kant Ramdass. The
case was set for a court hearing in early 2011 .
At year ‘s end prison officials Kurt Corbin and Gladwin Samuels awaited trial in the
High Court for a 2008 manslaughter case.
In the 2008 case of extreme violence in Lusignan in which 11 persons were killed ,
Mark Williams, Dwane Williams, and James Hiles await ed trial in the High Court.
In the 2008 case of extreme violence in Bartica , in which 12 persons were killed ,
authorities in May 2009 charged five individuals : Mark Williams, Dennis
Williams, Clebert Reece, Michael Caesar, and Roger Simon. The preliminary
investigation concluded , and the case was scheduled for a court hearing in early
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
The law prohibits such practices, however; there were reports alleging
mistreatment of inmates by prison officials. There were also allegations of police
abuse of suspects and detainees; however, unlike in 2009 , th ere were no reports of
During the year the PCA received 11 complaints of unnecessary use of violence.
Local media reported several cases of random police brutality, arrest, and
interrogation prior to investigation.
On December 9, Detective Corporal Ricardo Inniss was accused of raping a 21 –
year -old woman who was in custody at the Turkeyen Police Station. The woman
allege d that the detective , who was on duty , threatened her with continued
confinement , took her into a room, and had sex with her against her will. The
woman reported the incident , and the detective was detained . No charges had been
filed at year ‘s end.
The October 2009 case against three police officers , Sergeant Narine Lall,
Constable Mohanram Dolai, and Corporal Oswald Foo , for maliciously wounding
three suspects, 14 -year -old Twyon Thomas, Deonarine Rafick, and Nouravie
Wilfred, during a murder investigation remained pending at year ‘s end. The
complainants did not respond to court orders to appear to testify.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions recomm ended dismissal from the
Guyana Police Force (GPF) of police officer Lennox King , who allegedly sexually
harassed and attempted to rape a Brazilian woman in November 2009 .
In December 2009 authorities remanded police constable Gavin Holder to prison
on charges of indecently assaulting a 15 -year -old girl who was in police custody;
authorities also charged p olice constable Gary Verwayne for the same offense. A
court sentenced Gary Verwayne to two months ‘ imprisonment , while Gavin
Holder ‘s case remained pen ding at year ‘s end .
In December 2009 authorities arrested police constable Colin Jonas and an
accomplice for robbing a businessperson of cash and jewelry worth 500,000
Guyanese dollars ($2,500) at his shop in Crabwood C reek. The suspects were
released on bail of 300,000 Guyanese dollars ($1,500) in December 2009 , and t he
case remain ed pending at year ‘s end .
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison and jail conditions were poor and deteriorating, particularly in police
holding cells. Capacity and resource constraints were a problem. The Prison
Authority reported that at the end of October, there were 2,122 prisoners in five
facilities, which had a combined design capacity of 1,580. Approximately half of
the prisoners were in Georgetown ‘s Camp Stree t Prison, which was designed to
hold 600 inmates but held 1,060. Overcrowding was in large part due to backlogs
of pretrial detainees, who constituted approximately 41 percent of the total prison
population. Government medical officers visit each prison lo cation on a monthly
basis. In addition, a medical staff consisting of a medical examiner, registered
nurses, and assistant nurses provide daily treatment and monitor the sick as advised
by the medical doctors. There were 83 female prisoners, all at the New Amsterdam
prison. There were no juveniles in custody.
Unlike in past years when all newly hired prison guards received limited human
rights training from the Guyana Human Rights Association , the association was
not invited to perform training during the year.
Conditions improved at the Brickdam facility lockups this year , after the facility
reopened following renovations, includ ing improved cells and bathroom facilities.
Although precinct jails were intended to serve only as pretrial holding areas, some
suspects were detained there as long as two years, awaiting judicial action on their
There were reported cases of death in prisons due to neglect or prison official
abuse. On February 5, two prisoners died following a fight at the Georgetown
Prison. An investigation concluded that inmate Soloman Blackman stabbed inmate
Dyal Singh. Other inmates then beat and killed Blackman. Blackman had been
diagnosed by a prison ps ychiatrist as mentally ill but was returned to the general
prison population after he showed signs of improvement following medical
treatment. Following the incident, the Guyana Prison Service announced measures
to keep mentally unstable inmates segregated from the general prison population
until construction of a separate facility to hold them.
Prisoners and detainees had reasonable access to visitors and were permitted
religious observance. Prison chaplains representing the major faiths in the country
we re appointed to all prison facilities. Prisoners and detainees are able to submit
complaints to judicial authorities without censorship and to request investigation of
credible allegations of inhumane conditions. Prisoners often circumvent procedures
for s ubmitting complaints by passing letters addressed to government officials to
family members. The government investigated and monitored prison and detention
center conditions. On October 1, the minister of home affairs appointed chairmen
and members to the prison visiting committees of the Georgetown, Mazaruni, New
Amsterdam, and Timehri prisons. These committees are required to monitor prison
conditions and report findings to the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prison
Juvenile offenders 16 years of age and older were held with the adult prison
population. Juvenile offenders ages 15 and younger were held in the New
Opportunity Corp (NOC), a juvenile correctional center that offered primary
education, vocational training, and basic medical care. Problems at the NOC
included lax security and understaffing. There were complaints that juvenile
runaways, or those out of their guardians ‘ care, were placed with juveniles who had
committed crimes leading some petty offenders to become involved in m ore
serious criminal activity.
The Prison Authority reported that there were 83 female inmates in the women ‘s
prison located in New Amsterdam. Due to inadequate facilities, juvenile female
pretrial detainees were sometimes held with adult female pretrial detainees.
The Prison Authority offered rehabilitation programs focused on vocational
training and education; however, such programs did not adequately address the
needs of prisoners with substance abuse problems.
While the constitution provides for the appointment of an ombudsman who may
investigate any action taken by any government department or authority in relation
to the administrative functions of that department or authority, the position has
been vacant since 2005. There was no indication that th e government declined to
permit independent monitoring of prison conditions, but there were no known
monitoring visits during the year.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, during the year the PCA
received 50 complaints of unlawful arrest.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
The GPF, which is headed by the commissioner of police and overseen by the
Ministry of Home Affairs, employed 2,884 officers and is responsible for
maintaining internal security. The Guyana Defen ce Force (GDF) duties include
defending the country ‘s territorial integrity, assisting civil authorities to maintain
law and order, and contributin g to economic development. The GDF, headed by
the chief of staff, consisted of approximately 2,600 troops; it falls under the
purview of the Defense Board, which the president chairs.
Inadequate training, poor equipment, and acute budgetary constraints sev erely
limited the GPF ‘s effectiveness. Public confidence in , and cooperation with , the
police remained low. There were reports of corruption in the police force. Police
force abuses may be reported to the PCA ; however, the PCA does not possess an
independent investigation unit. On occasion the GPF reportedly failed to respond
adequately to narcotics -related violence.
The PCA received approximately 400 written and oral complaints, 230 of which
were sent from the commissioner of police, primarily for police neglect of duties or
misconduct in public places, unlawful arrest, illegal search, corrupt transactions,
and unnecessary use of force.
As of November the GPF Office of Professional Responsibility received 186
complaints; it c oncluded 144 investigations, and 13 were sent to the director of
public prosecutions. PCA efforts to conduct impartial and transparent assessment
of the accusations it received were obstructed by staff shortages (five of eight full –
time positions were fill ed), as well as the lack of an investigative unit. By law the
police commissioner must comply with the PCA ‘s recommendations on
complaints, but the PCA relied on the GPF to conduct investigations into
complaints against its own officers. Long delays in rec eiving reports from the
commissioner also thwarted the complaints process. Most cases involving charges
against police officers were heard by lower magistrates ‘ courts, where specially
trained police officers served as the prosecutors.
Arrest Procedures an d Treatment While in Detention
An arrest requires a warrant issued by a court official, unless an officer who
witnesses a crime believes there is good cause to suspect that a crime or a breach
of the peace has been or will be committed. The law requires t hat a person arrested
and held for more than 72 hours be brought before a court to be charged;
authorities generally observed this requirement in practice. Bail was generally
available except in cases of capital offenses and narcotics trafficking.
Although the law provides criminal detainees prompt access to a lawyer of their
choice and to family members, in practice these rights sometimes were not fully
respected. The state provides legal counsel for indigent persons only when such
persons are charged with a capital offense. However, the Legal Aid Clinic provides
legal counsel at a reduced fee in certain circumstances, as determined by the
Clinic. Police routinely required permission from the senior investigating officer,
who was seldom on the premises, bef ore permitting counsel access to a client.
Lengthy pretrial detention, due primarily to judicial inefficiency, staff shortages,
and cumbersome legal procedures, remained a problem. Pretrial detainees
constituted 41 percent of the prison and detainee popula tion. The average length of
pretrial detention ranged from six to 18 months for those awaiting trial at a
magistrate ‘s court and for those awaiting trial in the High Court.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally
respected this provision in practice.
Delays and inefficiencies undermined judicial due process. Prisoner Justin John
was taken into custody in 2003 and charged with murder; h is trial was scheduled to
begin in 2008 , but in May 2010, he was among 23 prisoners who requested an
early trial ; he was freed on June 16 after the state was unable to produce witnesses
in support of its case.
In May according to prison records, 132 inmates of the Georgetown Prison were
schedu led to stand trial in the High Court; some had been incarcerated since 2003.
Delays were caused by shortages of trained court personnel and magistrates,
inadequate resources, postponements at the request of the defense or prosecution,
occasional allegation s of bribery, poor tracking of cases, and the slowness of police
in preparing cases for trial.
Trials are public and defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence. Cases in
magistrates ‘ courts are tried without jury. Cases involving more se rious crimes are
tried by jury in the High Court. Defendants can confront witnesses against them
and have access to relevant government -held evidence. Defendants have the right
to appeal. Trial postponements were granted routinely to both the defense and t he
prosecution. The law extends these rights to all citizens.
The law recognizes the right to legal counsel ; however, it was limited to those who
could afford to pay , except in cases involving capital crimes. Although there is no
public defender system, a defendant in a murder case that reaches the High Court
receives a court -appointed attorney. The Georgetown Legal Aid Clinic, with
government and private support, provided advice to persons who could not afford a
lawyer, particularly victims of domestic vio lence and violence against women.
Political Prisoners and Detainees
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
The case of former GDF officer Oliver Hinckson, whose indictment in 2008 for
sedition some observers claimed was politically mot ivated, was dismissed on June
Civil Judicial Procedures and Remedies
The law provides for an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters, and
the government generally respected this provision in practice. There is access to
courts to bring lawsuits seeking damages for, or cessation of, some human rights
violations. The magistrates ‘ courts deal with both criminal and civil matters.
Delays, inefficiencies, and corruption in the magistrate court system affected the
ability of citizens to seek t imely remed ies in civil matters, and there was a large
backlog of civil cases.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these
prohibitions in practice.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government
generally respected these rights in practice; however, the government ‘s monopoly
on radio broadcast ing continued. The government attempted to censor or restrict
content; the government sought indirectly to censor the print media by controlling
On August 9, the government announced the establishment of a W eb site through
which procurement o pportunities must be advertised. This announcement was
made following the passage of legislation in the National Assembly to permit the
publication of government procurement opportunities on a freely accessible Web
site. Stabroek News claimed that after th e announcement the Government
Information Agency (GINA ) placed no advertisements in Stabroek News or any
other private newspapers, although some appeared in the government -run Guyana
Chronicle. Another newspaper, Kaieteur News, offered the government free
placements of advertisements based on the availability of space. Some attributed
this pattern to a government attempt to deprive independent newspapers of
Government o fficials used libel laws to suppress criticism , and t he government
closed the UN -funded Media Monitoring Unit , established in 2006 to monitor
media in advance of the elections .
On July 12 , President Bharrat Jagdeo filed a libel suit for 10 million Guyanese
dollars ($ 50,000 ) against the publishers of the Kaieteur News ; its editor in chief,
Adam Harris; and columnist Frederick Kissoon. The suit stemmed from statements
in a June 28 article, “King Kong sent his goons to disrupt the conference. ” On July
13, the acting c hief just ice , Ian Chang , granted an interim injunction, restraining
Kissoon, Harris, and the National Media and Publishing Company Limited,
publisher of Kaieteur News, from reprinting the words or similar ones as contained
in the column. The suit contends that the article contained “false and manufactured
allegations ” and was also “malicious, irresponsible , and inflammatory, calculated
and designed to excite racial hostilities amongst the people of Guyana. ” The case
remain ed pending at year ‘s end .
On November 23, Minister of Agriculture Robert Persaud sued businessman and
presidential hopeful Peter Ramsaroop and Property Holdings Inc . (owners of
WRHM Channel 7) for 10 million Guyanese dollars ($ 50,000 ) following the
broadcast of a taped television show on November 7. T he minister claimed he was
libeled in that broadcast . On November 23 , a judge granted an injunction barring
the channel and Ramsaroop from repeating the alleged libel. The minister asserted
that statements on the program suggested that “he is dishonest , had committed
malfeasance in public office ,” and was “guilty of fraud and other kindred criminal
offenses. ” The case remained pending at year ‘s end.
On August 5, reporters Gary Eleazar from Kaieteur News ; Colin Smith, editor of
the Catholic Standard and local BBC correspondent ; Arianna Gordon of the
Guyana Times ; and Victor Vanvield of Prime News were turned away from a press
briefing at the Office of the President for not having a GINA pass. They were
informed that they would not be allowed in without a GINA pass and that the
Guyana Press Association accreditation was not acceptable. Cabinet Secr etary
Roger Luncheon stated that the government would not surrender accreditation to
any firm or entity other than GINA .
All radio stations operating on the electromagnetic spectrum are government
controlled. In October 2009 the Court of Appeal ruled that the government had an
unlawful monopoly on the airwaves and that the National Freque ncy Management
Unit w as not adequately considering radio license applications. The government ‘s
monopoly on radio broadcasting continued, limiting the expression of opposi tion
There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the
government monitored e -mail or Internet chat rooms. Individuals and groups could
engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by e -mail.
The International Telecommunication Union reported that there were an estimated
29 Internet users per 100 inhabitants in 2009.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedoms of assembly and association, and the government
generally respected these rights in practice.
c. Freedom of Religion
For a complete description of religious freedom, ple ase see the 2010 International
Religious Freedom Report at www.state.gov/g/drl/irf/rpt/ .
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of
Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, foreign travel,
emigration, and repatriation, and the government generally respected these rights
The government cooperated with the UN Development Program Office and the
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian
organizations in providing protection and assistance to internally displaced
persons, refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, and other
persons of concern .
The Amerindian Act requires that the local village council grant permission for
travel to Amerindian areas. In practice most persons traveled throughout these
areas without a permit.
The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not use it.
Protection of Refu gees
The government has not established a system for providing protection to refugees.
In practice the government did not expel or return refugees to a country where their
lives or freedom would be threatened on account of their race, religion, nationalit y,
membership in a particular social group, or political opinion; however, no such
cases arose during the year.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change their
The law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and
citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair national
elections based on universal suffrage. However, local government elections, which
the law provides should be held every three years, have not bee n carried out since
1994. On December 2, the National Assembly passed the Local Authorities
(Elections) (Amendment) Bill, which extended to December 1, 2011, the date for
holding local -government elections. Political parties operated without restrictions
or outside interference.
Elections and Political Participation
The most recent elections took place in 2006, when citizens voted in a generally
free election to keep the PPP/C government in office. Incumbent President Bharrat
Jagdeo was reelected to a five -year term. International observers, including teams
from the Organization of American States, the Caribbean Community, the Carter
Center, and the Commonwealth, noted isolated irregularities not sufficient to
change the outcome, declared the election subst antially free and fair but found that
ruling party use of government resources during the campaign disadvantaged
On February 16, the chief justice dismissed an election petition filed in the High
Court by the minority party, Alliance for Change (AFC) , in which the AFC
claimed that i ncorrect vote counting in Region 10 in the 2006 national elections
had wrongly awarded a seat to the PPP/C that should have gone to the AFC . The
chief justice ruled that the party had breached a mandatory pr ocedure by not filing
the affidavit of service in a timely manner. The AFC filed the document 10 months
after the petition, which the chief justice ruled was too long. The case was
dismissed approximately three years after it was filed.
The constitution r equires that one -third of each party list of candidates be women
but does not require the parties to select women for seats. There were 20 women in
the 65 -seat National Assembly and five women in the 21 -member cabinet.
While supporters of the two major parties (the PPP/C and the People ‘s National
Congress/Reform) were drawn largely from the Indo -Guyanese and Afro –
Guyanese communities, respectively, political party leadership was more diverse.
The ethnically diverse National Assembly included three indige nous members. The
cabinet was also ethnically diverse, mirroring the ethnic makeup of the general
population. Five of the 21 cabinet members were Afro -Guyanese, including the
prime minister and the head of the presidential secretariat; there were also two
Amerindian cabinet ministers.
Section 4 Official Corruption and Government Transparency
The law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption; however, there were
reports alleging government corruption and complacency in enforcing these laws
wi th respect to officials engaged in corrupt practices. The World Bank ‘s worldwide
governance indicators reflected that government corruption was a serious problem.
There was a widespread public perception of serious corruption in the government,
including l aw enforcement and the judicial system. Low -wage public servants were
easy targets for bribery. In January there were 62 GPF members before the courts
charged with various crimes including robbery, simply larceny, bribery , and
indecent assault .
Public offi cials are subject to financial disclosure laws and are required to submit
information about personal assets to the Integrity Commission, but compliance was
uneven and the commission had no resources for enforcement or investigations.
The law does not prov ide for public access to government information.
Government officials were generally reluctant to provide information without
approval from senior administration officials.
Section 5 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental
Investi gation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A few domestic human rights groups generally operated without government
restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases.
Groups at times, however, complained that government officials were
uncooperative and unresponsive to their views; when they did respond, it was
generally to criticize.
The constitution allows for a governmental human rights commission, but it has
not been established. While the constitution provides for an Office of the
Ombudsman to provide redress to government employees, the ombudsman
position has been vacant since 2005.
Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
While the constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gend er, disability,
language, social status, religion, or national origin, the government did not always
effectively enforce these prohibitions.
Rape and incest are illegal but were neither frequently reported nor successfully
prosecuted. Rape is a prob lem and pervasive in society. Ineffective police and
prosecutors resulted in few charges and fewer convictions.
On May 24, the president signed into law a Sexual Offenses Bill that broadened the
definition of rape to include spousal rape, coercion, new ch ild -sex offenses, and the
creation of offenses for vulnerable adults with a learning disability or mental
disorder. Other offenses, such as indecent exposure, voyeurism, and bestiality are
included; the assumption that males under the age of 14 years are i ncapable of
sexual intercourse was abolished.
A judge has discretion to issue a sentence of any length in a rape conviction,
depending upon the circumstances and severity of the act committed. The apparent
norm appeared to be a sentence of five to 10 year s’ imprisonment. During the year
42 persons were charged with rape and 20 were convicted (a figure that includes
persons charged in preceding years). Additionally, during the year , 201 persons
were charged with statutory rape and 53 were convicted (including persons
charged in preceding years).
Domestic violence and violence against women, including spousal abuse, was
widespread and crossed racial and socioeconomic lines. The law prohibits
domestic violence and allows victims to seek prompt protect ion, occupation, or
tenancy orders from a magistrate. Penalties for violation of protection orders
include fines up to 10,000 G uyanese dollars ($50 0) and 12 months ‘ imprisonment;
however, this legislation frequently was not enforced because of a lack of
wi llingness to press charges o n behalf of the victims and/or a lack of confidence in
obtaining a remedy through the courts. Some victims prefer red to reach a
pecuniary settlement out of court. There were reports of police accepting bribes
and other reports o f magistra tes applying inadequate sentences to convictions.
Additionally, cases that appear for a violation of protective order tend to be
categorized as assault cases .
According to the nongovernmental organization ( NGO ) Help and Shelter, the GPF
refurbish ed police units, which are required to include domestic violence units
where victims can be counseled in private. The group noted discrepancies in police
training for domestic violence, with some divisions actively involved in training,
while others remain ed unfamiliar with the basic violence protection order. The
GPF reported that it had established domestic violence units in four police
divisions by year ‘s end .
Help and Shelter handled 346 cases of abuse and violence, including child,
spousal, and other domestic abuse , of which 24 were formally filed in a court. Of
these, three were prosecuted and one was dismissed during the year. Investigations
in the remaining 20 cases continued at year ‘s end.
During the year the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security
established a Task Force on Violence Against Women. A representative from Help
and Shelter sits on the Task Force.
Help and Shelter ran a free shelter for victims of domestic violence and operated a
hotline to counsel victims with the fund s it received from both private donors and
the government. During the year Help and Shelter conducted 36 workshops and
132 awareness sessions in sensitizing individuals about domestic violence,
reaching 4 ,313 individuals , and 929 were counseled for domesti c abuse or violence
during face -to -face counseling session s and via the telephone hotline.
Sexual harassment is prohibited under the Prevention of Discrimination Act, which
provides for monetary penalties and award of damages to victims, but its
applicatio n is confined to the workplace. Harassment in schools, for instance, is not
covered under the law . Any act of sexual harassment involving physical assault can
also be prosecuted under relevant criminal statutes. Although reports of sexual
harassment were c ommon, there were no known prosecutions for sexual
harassment under the Prevention of Discrimination Act, and charges of sexual
harassment were often settled out of court.
Couples and individuals had the right to decide freely the number, spacing, and
timing of their children and had the information and means to do so free from
discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to contraception and skilled
attendance at delivery and in postpartum care were widely available. The UN
Children ‘s Fund reported t hat 83 percent of births had a skilled attendant. The UN
Population Fund reported a contraceptive prevalence rate of 34 percent. The UN
Population Fund estimated the maternal mortality ratio in 2008 at 270 deaths per
100,000 live births. The Guyana Respons ible Parenthood Association (GRPA),
established in 1973, collaborated closely with the Ministry of Health ‘s Maternal
and Child Health Department to lecture on safe parenthood. GRPA has offered
contraceptive services at its headquarters and government clini cs since the early
Women and men had equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS.
The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, but there was no legal protection
against such discrimination in the workplace. Although women constituted a
significant proportion of the workforce, there were credible reports that they were
treated unequally as well as faced disadvantages in promotion. Job vacancy notices
routinely specified that th e employer sought only male or only female applicants.
The Women ‘s Affairs Bureau of the Ministry of Labor monitored the legal rights of
women, but its role was limited to employment -related services. The bureau also
held seminars on leadership and gender equity issues for women throughout the
country. The constitution provides for a Women and Gender Equality Commission ,
whose chairperson w as sworn in during April .
The law protects women ‘s property rights in common law marriages. It entitles a
woman who separates or divorces to one -half of the couple ‘s property if she had
regular employment during the marriage and one -third of the property if she had
not been employed. In practice women ‘s property rights were generally observed.
Citiz enship is derived by birth within the country ‘s territory or by birth to a
Guyanese citizen abroad.
There were some reports of physical and sexual abuse of children. During the year
Help and Shelter handled 78 cases of child abuse and nine child abuse cas es were
filed with the courts, of which one was committed to the High Court, two were
dismissed and six we re ongoing. Law enforcement officials and NGOs believed
that the vast majority of child rape and criminal child abuse cases were not
reported. As with cases of domestic abuse, NGOs noted reports that some police
officers and magistrates could be bribed to make cases o f child abuse “go away. ”
The Child Care and Protection Agency, established in 2009, operated a h otline to
take calls regarding suspected abuse of children. The hotline received 447 child
abuse reports , involving 770 children.
The age of sexual consent is 1 6. Under the law anyone who has sexual relations
with a girl under 16 can be found guilty of a felony and imprisoned for life. There
were reports of child prostitution, although there were no indications that the
country is a destination for child sex to ur ism.
There is no specific legal prohibition of child pornography. However, the law
regulates selling, publishing, or exhibiting obscene material, defined as anything
that could deprive or corrupt those open to immoral influences.
The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of
International Child Abduction. For information on international parental child
abduction, please see the Department of State ‘s annual report on compliance at
The Jewish community was very small, perhaps fewer than 50 me mbers. There
were no reports of anti -Semitism.
Trafficking in Persons
For information on trafficking in persons, see the Department of State ‘s annual
Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/g/tip .
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution mandates the state to “take legislative and other measures ”
designed to protect disadvantaged persons and persons with disabilities. On
November 2, President Jagdeo signed the Persons with Disabilities Act , which
provides for equal protection under the law. The act stipulates that the National
Commission on Disabi lities shall comprise 12 members appointed by the
president; it charges th e commission with advising the government , coordinating
actions on issues affecting persons with disabilities , and addressing
implementation and monitoring of the act ‘s provisions. R egardless, lack of
appropriate infrastructure to provide access to both public and private facilities
ma de it difficult for persons with disabilities to be employed outside their homes.
The Open Door Center offered assistance and training to persons with d isabilities
throughout the year.
According to the 2002 census, the indigenous population constituted 9 percent of
the population. There were nine tribal groups, and 90 percent of indigenous
communities were located in the remote interior . Their standard of living was
lower than that of most citizens, and they had limited ability to participate in
decisions affecting their lands, cultures, traditions, and allocation of natural
resources. Indigenous communities had limited access to educati on and health
care. All indigenous communities had primary schools, and there were 13
secondary schools with an enrollment of 5,547 in remote regions. The secondary
schools had dormitories that housed approximately 1,000 to 1,700 students at
government exp ense. Government programs trained health workers, who staffed
rudimentary health facilities in most communities.
By law persons wishing to enter indigenous lands must obtain prior permission
from the local village council, but most visitors traveled in th ese areas without a
permit. Rules enacted by the village council require approval from the minister of
Amerindian affairs before entering into force.
Since passage of the Amerindian Act of 2006, which took effect on December 1 ,
the government has increased the number of communal land titles for Indigenous
communities from 74 to 97, more than doubling the area from 6.5 percent of the
national territory so designated to 14 percent. A t year’s end 134 communities had
collective land titles .
To earn cash some villages contracted with loggers, saw millers, and miners to
exploit timber and other natural resources on their land. Some indigenous groups
and others perceived President Jagdeo ‘s Low Carbon Development Strategy
(LCDS) as anoth er government “land grab. ” The Jagdeo administration conducted
consultations with several indigenous communities on the LCDS, but many
observers described the sessions as one -way presentations by government officials.
The government made efforts to grant l and titles to indigenous communities , and
these titles are to receive payments under the LCDS.
Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual
Orientation and Gender Identity
Sodomy is punishable with a maximum sentence of life in pr ison. There are no
laws concerning female -to -female sex.
In February 2009 police arrested several transgender persons and took them before
the acting chief magistrate , who ordered levied a fine of 7,500 G uyanese dollars
($37) . The magistrate told them they were “confused ” about their sexuality and
gender, stat ing “it’s a curse on the family. ” Following this incident the Society
Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination and four of the individuals filed a
motion in the High Court against the la w criminalizing cross dressing ; the case
remained pending at year end .
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Violence and discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS were not widely
Section 7 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The constitution provides for the right of association and allows workers to form
and join trade unions, and workers generally exercised this right in practice.
However, the constitution bars military and paramilitary members from unionizing
or associating with any established union. According to the Ministry of Labor ,
approximately 25 percent of the work force was unionized.
The law provides workers with the right to strike, and workers exercised this right
in practice. Strikes may be declared illegal if the union leadership did not approve
them or if they did not meet the requirements specified in collective bargaining
agreements. Public employees providing essential services may strike if they
provide the required one -month notice to the Ministry of Labo r and leave a
skeleton staff in place, al though the International Labor Organization ( ILO )
continued to note that not all of the services deemed essential by the government
were considered essential under international definitions. Arbitration is compulsor y
for public employees , and employees engaging in illegal strikes are subject to
sanctions or imprisonment. The ILO noted that such restrictions compromised
workers ‘ right to strike. The law defines and places limits on the retaliatory actions
employers ma y take against strikers.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
Public and private sector employees possessed and exercised the right to organize
and bargain collectively. Eight collective bargaining agreements were signed in the
first half of the year . The ILO noted that 40 percent of workers must be covered to
conclude a collective bargaining agreement ; 22 percent of the workforce was
covered by collective bargaining agreements. The Ministry of Labor is required to
certify all collective bargaining agreements, and there were no reports that it
refused to certify any specific agreement. Individual unions directly negotiate
collective bargaining status.
The law prohibits antiunion discrimination by employers; however, some public –
sector employee unions continued to allege antiunion discrimination by the
government. The Guyana Public Service Union and the Guyana Bauxite and
General Workers ‘ Union continued to allege antiunion discri mination by the
government. Trade union worker rights continued to be violated , and the
government did not effectively enforce its laws . There are no export processing
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulso ry labor; the re were reports of forced child
labor, mainly involving the sexual exploitation of children. In February authorities
rescued a child from a forced child -prostitution situation and charged a suspect in
March . The case remained pending at year ‘s end.
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
Although the law sets minimum age requirements for employment of children,
child labor in the informal sector was a problem. The law prohibits the
employment of children younger than 15 w ith some exceptions. Technical schools
may employ children age 14 provided public authority approves and supervises
such work. No person under 16 may be employed at night, except under regulated
circumstances. The law permits children under 16 to be employ ed only in
enterprises in which members of the same family are also employed.
Child labor was most prevalent in family -based businesses, farming, bars and
restaurants, domestic work, and street vending. Small numbers of children also
performed hazardous w ork in the construction, logging, farming, fishing,
manufacturing , and mining industries. Isolated incidents of the worst forms of
child labor occurred, mainly in gold mining, prostitution, and forced labor
activities. Children who worked in gold mines operated dangerous mining
equipment a nd were exposed to hazardous chemicals.
There were also reports of sexual exploitation of children, most commonly in
mining areas. Also see the Department of State ‘s annual Trafficking in Persons
Report at f.state.gov/g/tip .
The Ministry of Labor collaborated with the Ministry of Education and the GPF to
enforce child labor laws. The Ministry of Labor employed 20 labor inspectors who
were charged with investigating child and exploitative labor activities; however,
these were not sufficient to enforce existing laws effectively. Despite conducting
approximately 4 ,000 worksite inspections, no fines or penalties were assessed , and
no employers were charged.
e. Acceptable Conditio ns of Work
The public sector minimum wage is 33,207 G uyanese dollars ($165) per month ,
and it is applicable to both public and private sectors; however , the government set
wage adjustments unilaterally for public -sector employees . Although the minimum
wag e is across the board, the private -sector wages/salaries are higher than that of
the public sector for similar categories of workers such as clerks and drivers. The
Ministry of Labor was responsible for enforcing the minimum wage, and although
enforcement mechanisms exist they were not used effectively. Unorganized
workers, particularly women and children in the informal sector, often were paid
less than the service -sector legal minimum wage. The legal minimum wage did not
provide a decent standard of living for a worker and family.
The law sets hours of employment, which vary by industry and sector. In general,
work in excess of a 44 -hour workweek required an overti me payment rate. The
law does not require a minimum weekly rest period but does state that a person
cannot be compelled to work overtime. These standards were effectively enforced ,
according to the Ministry of Labor .
The law also establishes workplace saf ety and health standards. The Occupational
Health and Safety Division of the Ministry of Labor is charged with conducting
factory inspections and investigating complaints of substandard workplace
conditions. Inadequate resources prevented the ministry from effectively carrying
out this function. According to the Ministry of Labour, there were 24 fatal
industrial accidents during the year . Fifty percent of these accidents were in the
mining sector and 17 percent in the forestry sector. More than half of thos e who
died in these sectors were 15 to 35 years of age.
The Ministry of Labor moderately enforced inspection findings ; responsible
employers were more likely to follow standards. Workers could not remove
themselves from dangerous work situations without j eopardizing continued