While the latest United States (US) report on human rights in Guyana states that there is a perception of corruption in the state among the citizens, this is a status quo evident in the State Department’s reports since 2016 that the report notes the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government is showing the political will to tackle.
A perusal of the 2016 report shows that with only one year gone into the term of the former A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Government, widespread public perception of corruption involving officials at all levels, including the Police and the Judiciary was cited.
“The law provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials, and the Government generally implemented the law effectively. There were isolated reports of Government corruption during the year, and Administration officials responded to the reports,” the report stated.
The year 2017 was no different. But the succeeding reports, 2018 and 2019, were worse since it was noted that “corruption by Police officers was frequent”. Despite the prevalence of corruption highlighted in the report, it was noted that there were no reports of any members of the Police Force being prosecuted in 2018 or 2019.
It would not be until 2020 that reports of prosecution of corrupt officers, including Police Officer Richard Persaud, would be highlighted in the report. According to the report, Persaud resigned from the Police Force in August 2020 and as of October of that year, the prosecution continued.
The fight against Police corruption took a dramatic turn in 2021, when according to the human rights report covering that year, 11 Police officers were arrested and charged with multiple counts of fraud, conspiracy, and larceny for inflating the costs of meal procurement for Police officers and keeping the difference.
“On October 27, (2021) two of those charged were released, and the judicial proceedings for the others were ongoing,” the report states, also noting that the Government effectively implemented anti-corruption laws.
Only recently, Transparency International Guyana Index (TIGI) President Fred Collins had pointed out that Guyana has over the past few years made significant improvements on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI).
While Guyana scored 39 and was ranked at 87 out of 180 countries that were studied in the Transparency International (TI) index for 2021, Collins had noted during a recent appearance on Globespan that Guyana’s improvement has been consistent. At one point, Guyana had a score of 29 and a ranking at 119, back in 2015.
Earlier this year, Vice President Bharrat Jagdeo had pointed out that with more lapses from APNU/AFC’s time in office being exposed, this could cause the country to slip further on the corruption index.
He had noted that many of the lapses that caused TI to score Guyana the way it did, occurred under the former Government. This is compounded by the work of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), which has been exposing wrongdoings under the former Government, with its examination of the Auditor General’s report.