The Guyana Police Force (GPF) is the least trusted institution in Guyana – a country with high levels of crime and violence–and urgently needs to strengthen its investigation and prosecution capacity since it currently records a dismal 90 per cent failure rate.
These are but some of the dismal findings of a United States funded Report on Human Rights, Democracy and Governance in Guyana, and was produced for review by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)–one of this nation’s longstanding donor partners.
According to the US-based report, Guyana currently faces a number of social problems, including high levels of crime and violence; high levels of domestic violence; incidents of violence against transgender individuals; high incidents of trafficking in persons (TIP); and the increasing use of guns, particularly for criminal purposes.”
The USAID report said there is urgent significant need to reform the Guyana Police Force and “strengthen its investigations and prosecutions since an estimated 90 per cent of prosecutions are unsuccessful and it is the least-trusted institution in the country.”
Similar to the findings contained in the annual US State Department reports, Guyana continues to be labelled a trans-shipment point for drug smuggling from South America to North America, Europe, and West Africa.
High migration levels
It found too that in addition to a disproportionately high suicide rate, the country also has a high migration rate, with 90 per cent of tertiary-level graduates migrating to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of the Caribbean.
It was observed too that while the Guyanese Diaspora is “tremendously important to the country in terms of remittances,” the high migration levels have an adverse effect on the society, “in that it drains the country of intellectual capacity, technical skills, and know-how.”
This has also resulted in the local private sector experiencing high turnover rates as educated, trained, and capable people find opportunities elsewhere.
Scores of international studies have correlated links between the high migration levels and increased burdens on indigenous security forces.
Far from certain
The scathing report said too that it is too early to tell if the promises of the coalition A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) will be realised.
According to the report, the May 2015 elections of a multiethnic, reform-minded coalition brought a fresh opportunity for Guyana to move toward a more responsive and accountable state of governance, “however, this democratic outcome is far from certain.”
It documents that the coalition Government faces deep-seated legacies of single-party domination; politically driven ethnic divisions; and a centralised patron-clientelist system with weak, unaccountable, and unresponsive government institutions.
Political power, the report said, is concentrated in the executive, more specifically within the office of the president in David Granger, a former military officer and elected leader of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
According to the US report, “President Granger and the coalition Government enjoyed a honeymoon period that is now largely over.”
The report said while the coalition is expected to last until the 2020 elections, “they need to maintain cohesion and manage tensions arising between the two parties…They say the right things about reforms…However, it is still too early to tell if this reform resolve will last.”
The local media landscape also came in for critique by the USAID-funded report.
According to the authors, “The media is pluralistic and politicised, with the state media having the only nationwide reach.”
It documents that the local media landscape practices self-censorship as previous governments retaliated against critical coverage.