Rodrigues defends Govt. human rights track record at UN hearing

0
Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues in Geneva
Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues in Geneva

Below is the statement in full provided to the United Nation’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group session which was headed by Foreign Affairs Minister, Carolyn Rodrigues in Geneva recently.

 

National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21

Guyana

 

Introduction

  1. Guyana is pleased to present its report to the 2nd Universal Periodic Review and give an account of the status of the implementation of the recommendations made at the 15th session of the UNHRC, September 23, 2010.
  2. Guyana asks the Committee to note Guyana’s State Party reports to the CEDAW and the CROC and its review before these Committees in 2012 and 2013 respectively, and, its State Party report to the ICSER, which provide valuable information. Guyana has also submitted its National Review of the Beijing Declaration and the Implementation of the Plan of Action. Information and data from these reports have not been reconsidered in this present report except in areas where there have been relevant changes or for emphasis. In view of this, the Government of Guyana recommends that this report be read together with these State party’s reports and reviews, wherever applicable.
  3. Guyana voluntarily committed to consult on 28 recommendations of the 55 Recommendations (70.1–70. 55), which were considered controversial, that is: 14 recommendations with regard to the abolition of the death penalty (70.9, 70.23–70.35); 6 with regard to the abolition of corporal punishment (70.36–70.41); 7 with regard to decriminalizing consensual same sex adult sexual relations and discrimination against LGBTs (70.47–70.53) and 70.43 (age of criminality).
  4. Although Guyana did not accept Recommendations 70.44, 70.45 and 70.46, it re-affirmed its commitment to investigate any and all allegations of extra-judicial killings through a transparent process and report on efforts made.
  5. Guyana noted the contents of the Mid-Term Assessment (MIA-Guyana) and wishes to register its deep concern that no communication was received from the UNHRC prior to this assessment being done.1
  6. Part I of this report provides information on Methodology and Consultation and an Update on the Challenges, Risks and Threats. Part II provides updated information on treaties Guyana ratified in the interim as recommended in Section A; an update on the recommendations it agreed to consult on in Section B, and the progress report on the implementation of the recommendations which already enjoy the support of Guyana in Section C. The recommendations have been addressed under thematic heads.

Part I

Methodology and consultation

  1. The Government tabled “A Compendium of Documents on Guyana before the First Universal Periodic Review of the UNHRC, 8th session May 11, 2010 and the UNHRC 15th session, September 23, 2010”, to the National Assembly on October 18, 2010. The list of recommendations was highlighted for the attention of all 65 Members of Parliament and the Speaker of the 9th Parliament.
  2. As part of the consultative process on the 27 recommendations listed at Para # 3 herein, a decision was taken with the commencement of the 10th Parliament2, to bring these matters before the National Assembly. The Government tabled a motion on these recommendations asking that these matters be sent to a Parliamentary Special Select Committee. This was approved by the National Assembly on August 9, 20123. The 9 member Parliamentary Special Select Committee was appointed and commenced meeting on November 28, 2012.
  3. Discussions on these particular issues have not been restricted to the Legislature. Consultations have been held by the Ministry of Education on the abolition of the corporal punishment across the country. The media and some NGOs including religious organizations have had their own public discourses on the abolition of corporal punishment and the decriminalization of consensual adult same sex sexual relations and discrimination against LGBTs.
  4. Amnesty International met the government in 2014 and is working with The Justice Institute to advocate for an official moratorium on the death penalty with the aim of its ultimate abolition.
  5. The National Stakeholders Forum continues to function and meets on average 3 times a year under the President’s chairmanship to discuss matters of national importance.

Advances, challenges and threats

  1. According to the 2012 National Census Guyana’s current population is 747,884 persons living within 215,000 square kilometers.5 6
  2. The period 2007- 2014 represents the longest period of uninterrupted real economic growth since Independence with an average growth rate of 4.75% in the last five years.7
  3. This positive growth has encouraged the expansion and diversification of the economy and attracted foreign investment, particularly in the extractive industries, namely gold and oil and natural gas exploration, as well as an expansion of private sector credit.8
  4. The service industries continued to record overall positive growth of 5.5% at the end of 2013. This was led by the construction sector which recorded 22.6% growth as a result of its robust expansion due to the national housing drive, public sector construction projects and commercial construction.
  5. Guyana has continued to maintain one of the lowest human, education and income inequality ratios in the LAC region.9
  6. Of special note is the Guyana-Norway partnership which is the second largest interim REDD+ partnership in the world and the first national scale model. Under this partnership, Guyana is targeted to earn up to US$250 Million for its forest climate services.
  7. So far, Guyana has earned approximately US$150 million. These funds are being channeled through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF)10 for the implementation of projects and initiatives identified in Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy.
  8. A significant portion of the funds disbursed have gone to interventions that focus on the indigenous population; the US$8.2M Amerindian Development Fund project provides funding to enhance the socio-economic development of Amerindian communities and US$10.8 M is allocated to funding the Amerindian Land Titling Project. (See Para # 38–39, 155–158)
  9. The GRIF portfolio also focuses on mitigating the impacts of climate change through various adaptation projects and providing clean and affordable energy solutions for the country.
  10. These positive achievements in the economy have been tempered and sometimes overshadowed by the political situation that has emerged since the November 2011 elections. The ruling party received the largest single bloc of votes but has one seat less than the two opposition parties combined under the proportional representation electoral system.
  11. The 10th Parliament has witnessed the reduction of the annual budgets for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014 by the opposition majority totaling approximately over GY$90 Billion (US$450M). This has had a major impact on the implementation of national developmental agenda, slashing funds allocated for major transformative infrastructural projects in alternative energy and transportation as well services to and for further integration of indigenous communities into mainstream economy.11
  12. This legislative stalemate led to the defeat of eight government bills12. Most significant of these was the defeat in 2013 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, and, its subsequent re-submission and non-passage in 2014. This has brought Guyana under the review of the Financial Action Task Force in June 2014.
  13. The resulting political gridlock has contributed to significant uncertainty in the political environment and economic outlook with real concerns for political stability and investor confidence.
  14. In December 2012, the Government was so concerned that it officially submitted information to the UN, the OAS Permanent Council, the Commonwealth, the UNASUR and CARICOM warning of the threat to Guyana’s emerging parliamentary democracy by the present state of instability in the Legislature. Since then the situation has worsened.
  15. In the face of a no confidence motion tabled by the opposition parties in August 2014, President Donald Ramotar addressed the nation on November 10, 2014 and announced his decision to prorogue the Parliament, thereby preserving the life of the 10th Parliament, and creating space for “cooling of tempers” and opportunities for dialogue between the government and the opposition. If this approach failed the Parliament would be dissolved and national and regional elections called.13 The President has since announced that elections will be held in 2015.
  16. In spite of this situation, the poverty reduction programme and pro-poor pro-growth developmental approach continue and have contributed to significant improvements in the quality of life of Guyanese citizens, especially children. (see Para # 116–148)

Part II

Section A

Recommendations 68.1, 68.4, 68.5, 68.6, 68.7, 68.8, 68.9, 70.1, 70.3

  1. Guyana’s initial reports, with the assistance of UNICEF, to the Optional Protocol to the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Children on Children in Armed Conflict will be submitted by January 2015. So too, its initial report on the Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families.
  2. Guyana ratified/acceded to the following:
  • Occupational Safety and Health Convention, 1981 (No. 155)14
  • Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189)15
  • UNESCO Convention Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage16
  • Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.17

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

5

Recommendations 70.13. 70.14, 70.54, 70.55

  1. Guyana is actively considering ratifying the 1951 Geneva Convention relating to the Status of refugees and its 1967 Protocol.18

Section B

Recommendations 68.2, 68.3, 70.2, 70.4, 70.5, 70.6, 70.7, 70.8

  1. The outstanding Conventions and Optional Protocols listed in these recommendations continue to be under consideration.19

Abolition of the death penalty

Recommendations 70.9, 70.23-70.35

  1. The Parliamentary Special Select Committee referred to in Para # 8 herein was specifically tasked with seeking to determine the attitude of Guyanese, particularly the families of victims, criminologists, and professionals, on capital punishment and its possible abolition. However, its work in the reporting period focused on the abolition of corporal punishment.
  2. The Criminal Law Offences (Amendment) Act 21 of 201020 removed the mandatory death penalty for persons convicted of murders and made provisions for life imprisonment and imprisonment with the possibility of parole. The death penalty was retained in limited cases such as murder of a police officer on duty or treason.
  3. As a result, during the past 5 years over 15 prisoners on death row have had their sentence commuted to life imprisonment, and, some of these will be coming up for parole in the next 3 years. One prisoner on death row was exonerated in 2012. At the time of reporting there are 13 male prisoners on death row.
  4. In this period no prisoner on death row has been executed.

ILO Convention No. 169 and the UNDRIP

Recommendations 70.10, 70.11, 70.12

  1. Guyana has given consideration to ratifying the ILO Convention No. 169. However, Guyana continues to focus, within available resources, on its treaty obligations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Guyana has taken operational steps to implement the UNDRIP.
  2. Recognising the historic injustices perpetrated against the Amerindian peoples, the revised Guyana Constitution by Articles 14 9 and 149 G21 and the Amerindian Act 200622, provide for and guarantee Amerindian land rights, self-determination, governance and culture within Guyana subject to state sovereignty.
  3. Guyana’s land ownership is unique. The largest land owner is the state and the second largest landowners are the Amerindian (indigenous) villages who own communal land titles totaling 14% of Guyana’s land mass. In fact, the Committee may wish to note that communal lands are only titled to Indigenous Communities and no other groups of persons. The majority of land is distributed by lease or free hold in the agricultural sector and by license in the mining and forestry sectors. Private individual land owners own the smallest percentage.
  4. Government has continued to focus on Amerindian land rights reported in 2010. 103 Amerindian villages have been awarded absolute grants and 83 have been demarcated so far. The Amerindian Titling and Demarcation Project is expected to complete all titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands requested by communities.23
  5. S 4 of the Amerindian Act provides for the establishment of locally-elected Village Councils and Community Councils,24 whose mandate is to ensure good governance and management, and use of land and natural resources in their respective villages. The election of the Toshaos and Amerindian Village Councils and Community Councils takes place every 3 years as required by the Amerindian Act 2006.
  6. The National Toshaos25 Council (NTC)26 and/or Amerindian NGOs choose their representatives to sit on the 3 constitutional rights commissions – the Indigenous People’s Commission, the Ethnic Relations Commission, and the Women and Gender Equality Commission –27which offer direct opportunities to address any violation of their rights and to advocate for change.
  7. Guyana’s model of inclusionary governance facilitates the participation of indigenous leaders and people in the political landscape, free to determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development. Amerindian elected leaders and communities are included and participate in all major national strategic, legislative, and developmental forums.
  8. Amerindian NGOs and the NTC continue to participate in the consultation process in the updating of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).Representatives of the NTC, an Amerindian NGO, government agencies and civil society are members of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee on Climate Change.

Recommendations 70.15, 70.16, 70.17, 70.18 (UNHR special procedures)

  1. Guyana reiterates its readiness to continue to respond to invitations and to offer full collaboration with mandate holders.

Recommendation 70.19

  1. Guyana will continue to keep this open for future consideration. (see Para # 180, 183–4, 195)

Abolish corporal punishment

Recommendations 70.36, 70.37, 70.38, 70.39, 70.40, 70.41

  1. The Training School (Amendment) Act 201028 and the Juvenile Offenders (Amendment) Act 201029 abolished corporal punishment in juvenile correctional institutions.
  2. The new Child Care and Development Services Act (2011) also prohibits corporal punishment in institutional residences.
  3. The Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) referred to herein (see Para #8) publicly invited, received and heard submissions from a broad cross-section of society.30
  4. It became evident during these consultations and presentations to the PSSC that the abolition of corporal punishment in schools remains an issue on which sections of society are staunchly and equally divided; there has been no general consensus in civil society or in the PSSC on the way forward thus far.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

7

Minimum age of criminal responsibility

Recommendation 70.43

  1. The draft Juvenile Justice Bill is still under consultative review.

LGBT Rights

Recommendations 70.47, 70.48, 70.49, 70.50, 70.51, 70.52, 70.53

  1. The mandate of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee (PSSC) (Para # 8) was to receive and hear submissions on the attitude of Guyanese to any changes in legislative provisions and the criminal code regarding consensual adult same sex relationships and discrimination, perceived or real, against Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexual and Transgender persons. Fundamentally, the PSSC’s would have had to consider whether to recommend the repeal of the S351-353 of the Criminal Offences Act (which criminalises same sex/gender intimacy between consenting adult men in private) and S 153(1)(xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act ( cross dressing), and, to amend S4 of the Prevention of Discrimination Act to include sexual orientation. There is nothing in Guyana’s laws prohibiting consensual female adult same sex sexual relations. Due to the prorogation of the 10th Parliament this Committee’s work has ceased.
  2. During this period, there has been free and unfettered freedom of expression by NGOs including the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), religious organizations and the media on these issues.
  3. In response to SASOD’s June 15th 2014 submission to the UNHRC UPR on LGBT Rights in Guyana, Government wishes to reiterate that the State does not discriminate31 against persons based on their sexual orientation and that every Guyanese is entitled to their right to freedom of expression, employment, housing, medical care, education as provided for in the constitution, laws and policies of Guyana. The Government is unaware of the references made in their submission with regards to discrimination in employment. Regrettably these complaints appear to have not been brought to the attention of the Chief Labour Officer, the Public Service Commission or to the courts’ attention.
  4. Any aggrieved person is free to approach the courts on a constitutional motion. To date there has been one such case in February 2010 seeking constitutional relief against the state. The Magistrate found 4 men guilty of cross-dressing in 2010. The matter was heard in the High Court before the Chief Justice who ruled in September 2013 refusing all relief sought by applicants except that he found the right of the applicants to be informed of the reason for their arrest and detention under Article 139 was infringed upon by the police (an agent of the state). The Chief Justice awarded GY $40,000 to each of the four applicants. On October 17, 2013 the applicants appealed the decision of the Chief Justice to the Court of Appeal where the matter now resides.
  5. Guyana, however, acknowledges that there are interpersonal prejudices based on cultural attitudes and religious beliefs as reflected in a 2013 survey which indicated that 25% of Guyanese are homophobic.

8

Section C

Update on commitments, Part II (A/HRC/15/14)

Discrimination

Recommendations 68.10, 69.8

  1. Guyana’s State Party reports referred to in Para # 2 herein have documented Guyana’s efforts to advance the position of women, children and non-discrimination towards minorities, indigenous peoples, women and children in accordance with the Constitution, laws and policies and treaty obligations.

Legislative Reforms32 – enhancing human rights and protections

  • The Persons with Disabilities Act 201033
  • Defence (Amendment) Act. 201134
  • Custody, Contact, Guardianship and Maintenance Act 201135
  • Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act 201136
  • Childcare and Development Services Act 201137
  • Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2013
  • The Rights of Persons in Common Law Union (Amendment) Act 2012.38
  1. In addition, five sets of regulations relevant to the Children’s Bill were enacted in 2012.39
  2. Of special note is the enactment of the 2010 Judicial Review Act40, Cap. 3:06 which caters for the Courts to “review acts or omissions of a Minister, public body, public authority, tribunal, board, committee, or any person or body exercising or failing to exercise any public power or duty conferred or imposed by the Constitution or any written law.”

Non-legislative action

  1. Guyana’s consistent efforts to combat disparities and discrimination (real or perceived) by providing equal access to goods and services regardless of geography, ethnicity, religion, social origin, gender are documented. In Para# 116-148.
  2. The appointment of an Ombudsman in January 2014, the recent parliamentary approval of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), the continued functioning and capacity building of the Women and Gender Equality Commission (W & GEC), the Indigenous Peoples Commission (IPC), the Ethnic Relations Commission and the Rights of the Child Commission (ROCC) and the parliamentary re-appointment of the Judicial, Public and Police Service Commissions establish a framework for protection, promotion of human rights and complaints mechanisms for redress by citizens with regard to rights enshrined in the Constitution and laws of the country, and, the Conventions ratified by Guyana.
  3. The Committee may wish to note that Ombudsman under the Constitution and the Ombudsman Act Cap:19:0441 is empowered to “investigate any action taken by any department of Government, by the President, Ministers, officers or members of such a department or authority, being action taken in exercise of the administrative functions of that department or authority”.
  4. Noteworthy is that the High Court of the Supreme Court of Guyana has established a special constitutional and public law court in 2011, which deals exclusively with constitutional and public law matters. This has allowed for constitutional motions to be addressed expeditiously.
  5. The Inclusive Governance component of UNDAF 2012-2016 Country Programme focuses on training and capacity building of the four rights commissions in accordance with their constitutional mandates. The UNICEF CPAP also works with the Rights of the Child Commission.42
  6. Guyana reiterates43 that the Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Social Services includes scrutiny of areas and issues relating to children.44 This committee functioned in the 10th Parliament.

Persons with disabilities

  1. With the enactment of The Persons with Disabilities Act 2010, the National Commission on Disability (NCD) has been appointed and serves as the national focal point for persons with disabilities.
  2. The MoED’s Strategic Plan 2008–2013 was aimed at achieving Inclusive Education for All children and this objective is further strengthened in the 2014–2018 Plan with special attention to children with disabilities.
  3. The Ministries of Health (MOH), Education (MoED) and Labour, Human Services and Social Security (MLHSSS)45 have worked assiduously in collaboration with the NCD and non-governmental organizations to address the challenges and realities facing persons with disabilities.46

Cultural and ethnic diversity and solidarity

Recommendation 68.13, 68.22

  1. Guyana is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity and the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of Diversity of Cultural Expressions.
  2. Guyana acknowledges its ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic diversity through the celebration of historic, religious, cultural and ethnic traditions and practices at the national, regional and community levels. There are 13 public holidays which acknowledge the end of slavery, indenture labour migration, religious holidays and independence.
  3. In August 2014 Government launched the Guyana Festival aimed at promoting awareness and appreciation of Guyana’s multi-ethnic, multi-cultural diverse heritage. Events like this help to promote intercultural understanding and solidarity and reduce ethnic insecurities.47

Participation of women

Recommendation 69.23

  1. Guyana has made major progress towards promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women. The 2013 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Guyana at 33 out of 136 in the area of overall Political Empowerment. In Women in Parliament, Guyana is ranked at 29th and 24th for Women in Ministerial Positions.48
  2. Women Members of Parliament have increased from 18.5% in 1992 to 32.3% in 2013. Women occupy 31% of the seats in the 10 elected Regional Democratic Councils.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

10

  1. Women are well represented in public life. Women occupy key ministerial and decision-making portfolios49 as well as senior technical positions in the public service.50 Five of the ten Judges and 11 of the 18 Magistrates are female.51
  2. The IFC/World Bank Entreprises Survey 2010 (Guyana 2010) found that permanent full time female workers is 39.1%, higher than the average for LAC (37.5%) and lower middle income countries (32.6%).52
  3. The percentage of firms with top female managers is 17.7% which is slightly below the average for LAC (20.8%) and lower middle income countries (20.4%). The private/public partnership of the National Working Group on MDGs held a recent workshop to highlight the need to address this issue.
  4. However the percentage of firms with female participation in ownership is 58.3%, higher than LAC (42.7%) and lower middle income countries (37.6%).53
  5. Under Economic Participation and Economic Opportunities, the Global Gender Gap ranked Guyana at 41 for wage equality for similar work.54

Work environment

Recommendations 70.21, 70.22

  1. Guyana’s legislative framework includes The Equal Rights Act 1990, The Prevention of Discrimination Act 1997, The Persons with Disabilities Act 2010, Public Service Rules and several labour laws which prohibit discrimination in employment.
  2. Government introduced and enacted A National Minimum Wage by Order in July, 2013 for all workers.
  3. On 18th April 2012, Guyana signed the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) which was formulated through a national tripartite dialogue between the ILO, the Labour Ministry and social partners.55 The DCWP is directly linked to the Poverty Reduction Strategy and intended to stimulate “broad-based, jobs generating economic growth”, focus on “regional pockets of poverty” and promote “environmental protection”.56

Ethnic discrimination

Recommendation 69.30

  1. The rights of Afro-Guyanese peoples who represent 30.2% of the population57 are ensured in every aspect of society, housing, education, health among others. The efforts at reducing poverty and improving equal access to goods and services to all citizens aim to ensure that neither Afro-Guyanese nor any other ethnic group is excluded. (see Para # 116–148)
  2. In 2011, Government supported the planning and coordination of activities for the International Year of People of African Descent. Events were planned by a broad-based Steering Committee58 comprised of Afro-Guyanese groups59 supported by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport (MCYS).
  3. Guyana supported UNGA Resolution 61/19 and is part of the CARICOM Reparations Committee calling for reparations for the descendants of Africans who were enslaved and brought to work in the British, French, Dutch and Spanish colonies. As a result Guyana has established a broad based committee of 30 Afro-Guyanese groups which is preparing Guyana’s submission to CARICOM for its reparations claims to these former colonial powers.

Recommendations 68.11, 69.1, 69.2

  1. The rights constitutional Commissions60, the Ethnic Relations Commission61 and the Human Rights Commission62 are responsible for monitoring and reviewing all existing legislation, policies and measures for compliance, and reporting the need for amendment to any legislation to the National Assembly.63
  2. The independence and impartiality of these Commissions are assured by virtue of the mechanism for the members’ appointment and election. Article 212 G provides for the Commissions to be funded by a direct charge upon the Consolidated Fund.64 This article is in compliance with the Paris Principles.
  3. Until such time as the umbrella Human Rights Commission is appointed,65 Guyana will not be fully compliant with the Paris Principles. Guyana’s position regrettably remains the same.

Recommendations 68.12, 68.25

  1. Guyana has reported on these recommendations. (see Para # 2, 28–30)
  2. Of the 47 ILO conventions Guyana has ratified up to date, 13 reports are outstanding.

Domestic and sexual violence

Recommendations 68.14, 68.15, 68.16, 68.17, 69.11

  1. The promotion and enforcement of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) 201066, the 1996 Domestic Violence Act and its regulations67, and, the National Domestic Violence Policy form the framework for the reduction of all forms of violence and abuse against women and children and protection to the victims. This is enhanced through a multi-sectoral multi-dimensional approach.
  2. The 2013 amendment to the Sexual Offences Act 2010 removed flaws in the paper committal procedure based on the recommendations of the Rules Committee of the Judicial Service Commission.
  3. The Domestic Violence Act (1996) specifically provides victims of domestic violence with a relatively simple, quick and inexpensive means of obtaining protection from their abusive partners, through Protection Orders, and Occupation and Tenancy Orders68.Victims are afforded free legal advice and representation by the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic.69
  4. In 2011, the Men’s Affairs Bureau (MAB) was established in the MHSSS in recognition that the culture of violence requires specific inclusion of and attention to boys and men. The MAB advocates responsible male behavior and parenthood and works to end domestic and sexual violence.
  5. The June 27, 2012 “National Conversation on Domestic Violence” under the theme, “It’s Our Problem, Let’s Solve It!” focused on (i) further sensitization of the public and identification of preventative mechanisms to address domestic violence;(ii) developing a road map and a National Action Plan on Domestic Violence in Guyana, accompanied by a Comprehensive Communication Strategy and a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework of domestic violence cases and other reported cases of violence in our society.
  6. In November 2013, a two day National Conference for the Prevention of Interpersonal Violence was held which included the Guyana Police Force, the Guyana

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

12

Prison Service, the Ministries of Health, Education, Human Services and Social Security and FBOs, NGOs and the Private sector. It concluded that a multidisciplinary approach to exploring intimate partner violence (IPV) was required. More than fifty recommendations emanated which are in various stages of implementation.

  1. Over the last 4 years, the media, civil society and community and faith based organizations have played a more pro-active with regard to combating violence against women and children. Table 1 indicates that there has been a decrease in the total number of reports by more than 50%, a reduction of matters pending before the police from 51% to 25%, and increase in persons charged from 25% to 52%. These figures indicate some improvements in reducing the levels of domestic violence and the protection of victims.

Table 1 Data on Domestic Violence from 2011 to 2013

Year

Persons charged

Persons warned

Matters pending

Matters sent to probation

Missing

Other

Total No. of reports

2011

1,918

260

2,956

558

nil

nil

5,692

2012

1,715

106

1,406

149

nil

nil

3,376

2013

1,640

60

841

86

12

5

2,644

Total

5,273

426

5,203

793

12

5

11,712

Source: Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, 2014

  1. In 2014, another safe haven for victims of domestic and sexual violence and trafficking was opened by the largest Hindu religious organization, the Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha, with a training centre built nearby by another Hindu organization, the Guyana Central Arya Samaj. These will offer additional protection for victims in rural areas and add to the space offered by another NGO, Help and Shelter. These receive financial support from the government.
  2. In addition, in July 2014, the National Task Force on Sexual Violence held a special session to review the draft protocols70 for the police, prosecutors, magistrates, social workers and medical practitioners under the Sexual Offences Act 2010 and examine the new draft action plan. This plan is expected to be presented to Cabinet for approval.

Recommendation 69.9

  1. The Guyana Police Force (GPF) has taken measures to (i) establish Domestic Violence and Sexual Offence Units at Force Headquarters, and in the 7 Police Divisions; (ii) train Ranks and encourage more people-friendly precincts; (iii) remodel key precincts with designated private spaces to facilitate reporting such cases; and (iv) work with Non-Governmental Organisations and the MHSSS.
  2. The partnership between the Guyana Police Force and Faith Based Organisations (known as the COPS and FAITH COMMUNITY NETWORK)(CFCN) has improved the manner in which these cases are addressed.
  3. Whilst the number of persons charged and sentenced for domestic violence offences by Magistrates has increased significantly, the number of successful prosecutions and convictions of sexual offences has been disappointing. The rate of convictions for sexual offences for the period 2008–2014 is 23.6%.71 One high profile case of pedophilia has not been concluded after 4 years.
  4. Two recent rulings by a High Court Judge and the Chief Justice are particularly worrisome. A Judge granted an injunction to gag a person who claims he was a victim of sexual violence as a child from publicly speaking even on Facebook. An appeal by the victim to the High Court was thrown out. In the second case the Chief Justice was

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

13

approached to rule that a Magistrate’s use of the paper committal procedure in the 2013 amended Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional. The CJ ruled that the Magistrate had complied with the law but that the Act was unconstitutional. The Attorney General requested a stay of the Chief Judge’s ruling which was granted and the case will be heard. In the interim, this stay now allows a large number of rape cases that have been pending to proceed.72

Recommendation 69.10

Child protection

  1. The challenge is the implementation of the 2009-2011 laws (see Para #56–57), within available human and technical resources. Focus is on ensuring that the protection mechanisms are operating effectively to address the issue of ill treatment, all forms of abuse, including sexual abuse, child exploitation and capacity building of the relevant agencies and civil society bodies.
  2. Recognizing that child victims, in particular, have difficulties in disclosing abuse of any kind, the TELL Campaign was introduced to address this vulnerability in 2012.73
  3. This is a collaborative effort between the MHSSS, MoED and MoAA (Ministry of Amerindian Affairs) with the Police, Parent Teacher Associations, teachers and NGOs. It is designed to encourage children to disclose any form of sexual or other violence without fear or intimidation. It targets primary school children whilst having an overall public awareness approach on the Sexual Offences Act.74
  4. The Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) has continued to investigate child abuse cases reported throughout the country.75 The CCPA received 3,999 cases of child abuse in 2011, 3,689 in 2012 and 3,342 in 2013, all of which were investigated and addressed.76
  5. Its pro-active role have prevented 2,432 children from being separated from their families, while 519 children were removed from abusive situations and 207 placed in a family setting through the foster care programme.

Trafficking in persons

Recommendation 68.20, 69.15, 69.17, 68.20, 69.15, 69.17

  1. Government has remained committed to its multi-sectoral approach to address the issue of human trafficking in accordance with the 2005 Combating Trafficking in Persons Act.
  2. The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons77 meets monthly in order to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate national strategies relating to trafficking in persons. This body is chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs and includes a number of focal points from Governmental and Non-Governmental entities. Through this mechanism, coordination has been enhanced and has proven to be instrumental in avoiding overlap of activities or gaps in the response to trafficking in persons.
  3. Administratively, a Trafficking in Persons Unit was established at the Criminal Investigations Department, GPF and a Countering Trafficking in Person Unit in the MHSSS which works closely with the Police.
  4. Currently, the Ministerial Task Force is implementing initiatives outlined in the 2014-2015 National Action Plan (NPA).78 The objectives of the NPA include: to provide information about Trafficking in Persons (TIP) to vulnerable communities; to improve cooperation mechanisms among key stakeholders to prevent TIP; to enhance capacity of hinterland communities to prevent TIPs; to provide appropriate and comprehensive direct assistance to victims; to enhance capacity of stakeholders to identify victims and provide direct assistance through training; to formalise and strengthen a National Referral Mechanism and Inter-agency protocol; to enhance the capacity of the Law Enforcement Agencies to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers; and to enhance cooperative and enforcement mechanisms among neighbouring countries to convict traffickers and protect victims.
  5. The Ministerial Task Force on Trafficking in Persons has made repeated assessments of the agriculture and forestry sectors which have not unearthed any significant evidence of trafficking in persons, and, continues to actively monitor the mining districts, domestic services and retail sector within rural and interior areas. The Task Force works in collaboration with the Ministries of Natural Resources and the Environment, Labour, and, Amerindian Affairs, as well as the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, and other key stakeholders in order to coordinate efforts and ensure compliance.
  6. This body has conducted a series of programmes from 2010–2014 to heighten awareness on trafficking. These include surveillance in the hinterland79, visits to hinterland mining districts, training of members of the Community Policing Groups and the police officers80 assigned to the hinterland regions and other mining districts.
  7. The MoAA has focused on TIPs education and awareness training in Amerindian communities,81 and the MHSSS/MoED in collaboration with UNICEF, conducted country wide school awareness campaigns on TIPs.82
  8. Between January-July 2014, the Ministerial Task Force’s focused on outreaches to secondary schools and interior mining communities.83
  9. For Y2013 there were 9 reports of trafficking involving 20 persons, 3 convictions, and 5 cases are still before the courts. One case was dismissed. In 2012 there were 3 cases.

Poverty reduction, equal access to goods and services

Recommendations 68.21, 69.7, 69.27, 69.28

  1. The 2011-2015 Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme (PRSP) rests on the following pillars; (i)broad-based, low-carbon led job creation economic growth;(ii) stronger governance institutional, and regulatory structures; (iii) accelerated investment in human capital, and primary health care; (iv) accelerated investment in physical infrastructure in support of growth strategy; and (v) special intervention programmes to address regional and demographic pockets of poverty.84
  2. This PRSP continues targeting the poor and vulnerable sections of the population and aims to provide equal access to and delivery of goods and services, support greater integration and social cohesion, improve the quality of life and realization of human rights.
  3. Through continuous investments in Education, Health, Water, Housing, Human Services and Social Security and Amerindian Affairs which now assume 34.5% of the 2014 annual budget, Guyana continues to make strides in its poverty reduction goals. See Table 2, Appendix I, Allocations to the Social Sector, 2009-2014.

Other forms of relief and initiatives:

(a) Guyana continues to offer a wide range of relief and social safety nets for the poor and vulnerable in the society.85

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

15

(b) The One Lap Top Programme, referred to in Guyana’s 2010 UPR report, provided training and free lap tops to 51,214 households by mid-2014. By the end of 2015 the target of 90,000 households will be met. This was an initiative of the government to equalize access to modern technology.

(c) It is estimated that 1% of the population live in extreme poverty.86 To address this specific group, there are two residential centres for the homeless catering to over 370 adults. The Hugo Chavez Centre for Rehabilitation and Re-integration of the Homeless was opened in 2014 through a Guyana/Venezuela bilateral agreement and caters to 180 persons.

Education

  1. Progress within the Education sector has been significant and evident. The MDG Guyana Progress Report 201187 noted that Guyana has made excellent progress towards achieving universal primary education. In addition, Guyana has met its target of eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education, and strives towards parity at the tertiary level.88
  2. According to the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report Guyana89 is ranked 1 out of a total of 136 countries in Educational Attainment.90 This is a major achievement for a small developing country.
  3. This has been achieved through massive investment in the education sector91 in order to better equip its physical plant and provide more trained teachers.92 Guyana continues to offer free education from nursery, primary and secondary levels at government funded schools. Less than 15% attend private schools.
  4. As a result, hundreds of schools have been built and or refurbished across the country; 72% of teachers are trained and more than 50% of the teachers in the Hinterland regions are now trained teachers through the Guyana Basic Education Teacher Training Programme. As a result, the attendance and academic performance of school children at all levels have showed dramatic improvement at national and regional periodic assessments.
  5. This sector has played a critical role in equalizing access to opportunities for children regardless of where they live, ethnicity, religion or class. This is most dramatically evident in the interior and Amerindian communities where all Amerindian and interior children have access to all levels of education.
  6. Today, there are 116 nursery schools, 139 primary schools, and 13 secondary schools93 with dormitories94 in the far interior of Guyana, an increase from 130 in 1994 to 400 schools in 2014. Almost 6000 children attend secondary schools in the interior.
  7. Over GY$1B was expended on the National School Feeding Programme which benefitted over 65,000 children across the country with fortified snacks and or hot meals. Over 16,000 school children in three interior regions benefitted.
  8. The government offers universal school uniform allowances to all children enrolled in the government education system at nursery, primary and secondary levels.
  9. In 2014, the Government introduced the “Because We Care” Cash Grant of $10,000 ($50USD), for every child enrolled in the public school system95.These two programmes jointly cost GY $4B (US$20M.)
  10. These initiatives as well as free exercise and textbooks are all part of a national developmental programme to reduce poverty, and, secure the well-being and future of the next generation.
  11. From 2012, Guyana is focusing on achieving universal secondary education and improving the quality of education.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

16

  1. The new Education Strategic Plan (2014–2018) will focus on improving literacy rates, early childhood development, teacher training, enrolment in single sciences, technical vocational educational programmes, and more structured partnerships with private sector providers and parents.
  2. A new initiative, the Hinterland Education Improvement Project (HEIP) will include a series of public consultations throughout the hinterland regions to assist the MoED to gather information for a five-year action plan.96

Health

Recommendation 69.29

  1. Guyana continues to invest in the health sector with the aim of improving the quality and longevity of people’s lives. Government remains committed to securing access for all to appropriate, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services with improved quality, expansion and delivery of publicly guaranteed health services. Health care services offered by the government remain free.
  2. The recently launched National Health Strategy, Health Vision 2020(2013-2020)97, seeks to further these objectives.
  3. The MOH is implementing the Maternal, Peri-natal Strategy and Integrated Child Health Strategy 2011-2015.98 In 2014, 96 % of all births are attended by skilled health personnel in comparison to 85.6 % in previous years.
  4. Guyana continues to offer free Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission Treatment and free Anti-Retroviral Treatment at its facilities,99 thus significantly reducing levels of transmission and extending life and wellness of those affected. These programmes are under pressure due to the reduction of international funding to assist small developing countries.
  5. Guyana’s decentralized health services reach coastal, rural, riverain and hinterland areas in the ten Administrative Regions and are constantly under review with continued construction and staffing100 of health huts, health centres and hospitals and the provision of new services around the country. Government has embarked on a public/private partnership for a roving surgical outreach programme which provides specialized services at secondary hospitals in rural and hinterland communities.
  6. Guyana’s Immunization coverage remains high in all rural and hinterland areas despite challenges with regards to the high costs of accessing remote areas. One of the challenges Guyana faces with improved economic growth is a reduction in access to vaccines at affordable prices through the GAVI Vaccine Alliance.
  7. Malaria services including prompt diagnosis and treatment are now available at 87 sites across the hinterland regions.101
  8. Guyana’s bilateral agreements with the Governments of Cuba102 and China continue to provide specialist doctors, nurses and technicians who assist in the provision of vital health services at hospitals and diagnostic centers.
  9. The Centre for Disease Control, though funding has been reduced in 2014, continues to lend some support to the MoH.

Housing sector

  1. Guyana national housing programme103 continues to provide subsidized standardized houselots for low and middle income families through the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH &PA).
  2. Through a number of legislative measures as well as Government/commercial banks partnerships, low income households can access loans to build their houses at concessionary rates.104
  3. Thus, continued emphasis is placed on developing sustainable housing schemes, increasing the provision of low and middle income turnkey housing105 and expanding construction of core houses106 while working in partnership with private developers.
  4. By the end of 2013, 18,000 households in squatter settlements which emerged over 3 decades were regularized. The Government provided services (water, electricity, roads, et cetera) and security of tenure with Certificates of Title to Land to regularized squatters.
  5. The 2012 Census pegged the national building stock at 219,509 buildings. This figure represents an increase of 16.9%107 over the last ten years. All 10 regions recorded significant increases in their building stocks. Regions with exceptional growth rates, surpassing the national average by a factor of two (2), are Regions 3 (rural) and Regions 7 and 9 (interior).108
  6. Guyana is proud of the Achievements of the National Housing programme which it advocates as a model of “good practice” and provides for the right to shelter, right to tenure and security, women’s empowerment and sustainable harmonious community development.109

Water

Recommendation 69.24

  1. Recognizing the link between water, sanitation and poverty, the Guyana Water Incorporated’s Strategic Plan (2012–2016)110 is aimed at improving water and solid waste sanitation services as part of its Poverty Reduction Strategy.
  2. As a result the supply of potable water now reaches in excess of 95% of the population in the coastal areas and 73% in the hinterland areas. The population with access to treated water has increased from 26% to 50% presently.111

Food security and climate change

Recommendations 69.24, 69.25 (Reduce hunger)

  1. Guyana produces all the food required for its citizens.112 Government has continued to place emphasis on food security and climate change by transforming agriculture and adopting practices that are “climate-smart”, increase productivity, resilience (adaption), reduce/remove greenhouse gases (mitigation), and enhance achievement of national food security and development goals. Thus, a number of production systems are already being used by farmers and food producers to adapt to climate change and reduce vulnerability.
  2. Guyana’s vulnerability as a low lying country to floods has lead to an enhanced Civil Defence Commission, early weather forecasting and constant and consistent investment and maintenance of the drainage and irrigation, sea and river defence systems.
  3. Guyana was honoured at the 38th session of the FAO Conference for attaining the targets set by both MDG #1 and the goal set by the 1996 World Food Summit of halving the absolute number of hungry people by 2015.
  4. The prevalence of undernourishment has been reduced from 19.1% (1990–1992) to 5.1% (2010 and 2012). Thus the absolute number of undernourished persons fell from 143,000 to 38,000. Less than 1% of children under 5 suffer from severe malnutrition.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

18

  1. The Guyana National Nutrition Strategy (GNNS) 2009-2015 aims to ensure that all Guyanese, regardless of age, race, religion, or geographic location, attain an adequate nutritional status.
  2. The second GoG/IBD Basic Nutrition Programme (BNP-2) resulted in significant reduction of several vital nutrition deficits including reduction in iron deficiency anemia (Table 3 ), elimination of severe malnutrition, reduction in stunting and wasting in children (Table 4)113.

Table 3: Anemia prevalence in Children in Guyana (1997 and 2013)

Age group

Anemia prevalence (%)

% Change

1997

2013

0–4 years

47.9

24.0

50.0

5–14 years

56.7

20.8

63.3

Table 4: Prevalence of Malnutrition, stunting and wasting in Guyana (2003, 2009, 2012)

Age group

Underweight

Stunting

Wasting

Overweight

0–4 years

2006

5.9

6.7

4.1

1.4

2009

2.0

5.1

1.9

6.1

2012

1.2

3.6

1.7

9.9

Amerindian rights

Recommendations 68.23, 68.24

  1. Government has continued to channel resources toward the development of Amerindian communities. Through the REDD+ GRIF programme and expanded budgetary allocation for the Ministries of Amerindian Affairs, Education, Health and Water,114 and the Regional Democratic Councils, the quality of life has vastly improved and there is more equitable access of the delivery of goods and services for Amerindian communities. (see Para # 116-148)
  2. Of particular concern in this period is that the opposition Legislature slashed the 2014 capital budget of the MoAA to zero thereby throwing out projects and programmes for the development of Amerindian and interior communities. As a result, the two main sources for initiatives for Amerindian development are:

Amerindian Development Fund (ADF) – US$ 8.2 million

  1. The ADF provides funding to support the socio-economic development of Amerindian communities and villages through the implementation of their Community Development Plans (CDPs). Over the two (2) phases of the project, approximately 180115 communities will benefit. All CDPs were approved by consensus or majority vote at village meetings.116

Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) – US$ 10.8 Million

  1. This project aims to have land titles issued and the demarcation process completed for Amerindian villages that submit requests, including those that request and qualify for extensions (see Para #38–39). It is expected to strengthen land tenure security and the

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

19

expansion of the asset base of Amerindians, enabling improved long term planning and future development.

  1. The MoAA initiated the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme (YEAP)117 which offered skills training for young Amerindians. In addition, two thousand Community Support Officers118 were selected by and from the Amerindian communities to service these communities as well as interior villages.
  2. Under the One Lap Top Per Family Programme,119 GY$287.7 M (USD1.43M) was expended to procure solar systems for the 100 ICT hubs in Amerindian villages. Under this programme, the construction of 100 hubs in 100 villages will benefit 57,000 persons, including training of one person from each village in basic computer skills and maintenance.
  3. Between 2011 and 2014, the distribution of individual household solar units under the Solar Home Systems Distribution Programme120 brought electricity for the first time to 13,170 Amerindian homes in 130 Amerindian communities.
  4. Government will continue these interventions to enhance the livelihoods and development of Amerindian communities and improve their well-being and integration into mainstream Guyana.

Justice and security sector reforms

Recommendation 69.3

  1. Major steps have been taken and significant financial investments have been made in the criminal justice sector and the administration of justice since 2010.
  2. The GoG/IDB Modernisation of the Justice Administration System (MJAS)121 project concluded in 2013. Its achievements included the law revision of all laws as amended up to date, published and posted on www.legalaffairs.gov.gy, the creation of and the posting of the Official Gazette on Error! Hyperlink reference not valid.training for personnel within the sector, preparation for voice recognition recordings in the courts, updating and digitalising of the Law reports and the laws of Guyana, legal awareness campaign and increased access to justice for Guyanese.
  3. Key and critical pieces of modern legislation to enhance this sector such as the Interception of Communication Act 2008, Time Limit for Judicial Decisions Act 2009, the Judicial Review Act 2010, the Alternate Dispute Resolution Act 2010, Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters 2010, The Legal Practitioners Act 2011, The Broadcasting Act 2011 and The Access to Information Act 2011 were enacted in the 9th Parliament.
  4. To improve oversight, monitoring, accountability and enhance coordination within this sector, a number of initiatives have been introduced. Civil and Criminal Justice Committees were established under the MJAS project to strengthen the accountability and service delivery in the justice sector; enhance linkages and coordination within justice sector institutions; improving access to justice; facilitate coordination and cooperation among institutions responsible for all aspects of the justice system and ensure that the institutions involved in the justice system work more efficiently and effectively.122
  5. The Chancellor of the Judiciary has also established a Committee consisting of Magistrates, Court Prosecutors and Prison Officers which meets monthly to discuss criminal matters, remand prisoners, bail, trials and inquests.
  6. The Director of Public Prosecutions has established a Criminal Sector Committee that meets monthly to address police matters before the courts.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

20

  1. In February 2014, the Puisne Judges (Maximum Number) Order123 was issued which increased the number of Puisne Judges to 20. This will facilitate greater efficiency with which cases are heard and determined. This will significantly diminish the backlog of pre-trial detainees.
  2. In 2014, the annual budget for the judiciary was removed from under the Ministry of Legal Affairs and is now a direct charge on the Consolidated Fund, thereby enhancing the independence of the judiciary.
  3. The GoG/IDB Citizen Security Programme (CSP) concluded in 2014. The CSP provided significant additional financial and technical support to enhance citizens’ security and reduce levels of crime, violence, and insecurity.
  4. The CSP injected US$ 25M into this sector with improvements in physical plant, technical expertise and training, new laws and updating of existing laws, revision of policies, protocols and operational procedures. This investment has included the continuum of the administration of justice from prevention measures at the grass roots levels which target youth and vulnerable populations124, to enhanced intelligence gathering, monitoring, surveillance, investigative125 and prosecutorial capacity, to improved detention facilities, and post release reintegration.
  5. In 2014, the GPF hired a retired High Court Judge as its Legal Adviser to strengthen its investigative and prosecutorial capacity.
  6. The broad based National Commission on Law and Order continues to function.
  7. The 2004 Report of the Disciplined Forces Commission which was sent to two Parliamentary Special Select Committees in the 8th and 9th Parliament was completed in 2010 with 154 of the 166 recommendations being accepted. The majority of these are in different stages of implementation.
  8. The Constitution (Amendment) Act (No. 5 of 2009)126 was enacted on March 17, 2009 which provided for the establishment of a new Parliamentary Standing Committee to Oversight the Security Sector. This Committee has the responsibility for the examining the policies and administration of the entities in the Security Sector, namely the Disciplined Forces.127. This Committee can play a significant role in scrutinizing the Disciplined Forces with particular reference to compliance with Guyana’s treaty obligations on human rights.

Recommendations 69.4, 69. 5, 69.6, 69.19, 69.20, 69.21, 69.22

  1. Guyana wishes to assure the UNHRC that:

(a) The Guyana Police Standing Order No. 18 provides guidelines on the Use of Force and Firearms. Following an examination of international best practice and existing Standing Operating Procedures, the Manual on the use of force and firearms was revised;

(b) Human Rights is a core subject for recruit, supervisor and middle managers’ courses at the Felix Austin Police College (FAPC).128 Training includes the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officers, Human Rights, Ethical and Legal Law Enforcement Conduct and the Use of Force and Firearms;

(c) A number of rank and file and officers received overseas training;129 some receiving and Certification as Human Rights Trainers;

(d) A total of 308 instructors of the Guyana Police Force (GPF) have been trained in crime investigation and detection, information management, recruitment training, case management, ethics and human rights, management of domestic violence and child abuse cases, and, strengthening of internal and external accountability mechanisms;

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

21

(e) The new Defence 2014 Regulations provide for military and criminal proceedings for misconduct, abuse and excesses of force.

  1. The Constitution strictly prohibits torture and mistreatment of detainees and inmates. The Government has publicly gone on record and condemned any form of abuse and torture and repeatedly demanded that any allegation of torture and mistreatment of citizens, including prisoners, must be expeditiously investigated and action taken against defaulting ranks.
  2. In an effort to strengthen its investigative capacity the Police Complaints Authority (PCA)130 will be establishing its own Investigative Unit in order to conduct investigations independent of the Guyana Police Force (GPF).
  3. The PCA has been investigating allegations of unlawful killings, excessive use of force and extrajudicial killings by police by conducting prompt and impartial investigations.

Table 5131: Complaints of Police

2008

2009

2010

2011

Number of complaints received

167

133

238

241

Unnecessary violence

38

Number of cases of alleged unlawful killings

8

4

9

1

Number of cases where disciplinary charges brought

34

30

0

40

Number of criminal charges132

0

0

0

0

Number of inquests

8

8

0

1

Total

217

213

247

297

  1. The Director of Public Prosecutions133 may recommend that the offender (police) be charged and put before the court, independent of or following the PCA findings. In 2014, several police ranks are before the courts,134 including those for abuse and torture in lockups.
  2. As a result of major disturbances in Administrative Region #10 in July 2012 which resulted in 3 protestors being shot, a Commission of Inquiry was appointed by the President which included 3 Caribbean well known jurists and 2 Guyanese jurists. The COI was held over a 6 month period, and although the COI could not conclude that it was the police who shot the protestors, it recommended that compensation be provided for those who were shot as well as those who suffered losses to themselves or their properties in the violence that followed and the GPF review and amend police protocols with regard to public order and safety. The Government and the GPF implemented these recommendations.
  3. With regard to compensation for victims of police excess and torture, a High Court Judge on June 27, 2011 used international human rights law and “exemplary damages for breach of constitutional rights” and “compensatory damages” to award monetary compensation for Twyon Thomas, the victim.135
  4. In the interim period, there have been 3 cases of torture of persons in pre-trial detention (police lockups) which have led to Boards of Inquiry, complaints to the Police Complaints Authority and to criminal charges being laid against the accused officers.

Matters relating to detention, prisoners welfare

Recommendation 70.42 (mandatory limits for pre-trail detention)

  1. As stated in A/HRC/15/14/Add.1 Part II, Para #5, Guyana has satisfied this recommendation. Article 139136 with regards to conditions of detention is in conformity with minimum international standards.
  2. Judges in this period have released remand prisoners after undue delays in cases being heard by tardy prosecutors and defense lawyers. Provision is also made for sitting magistrates to visit prisons on particular days of the week to consider bail applications137 of detainees (remand).

Recommendations 68.18, 68.19 (prevent torture and mistreatment of inmates), 69.13, 69.14, 69.18, 70.20

  1. The Prison Act Cap:11:01138 guides the administration of the Guyana Prison Service (GPS) and is in conformity with the UN Standard Minimum Rules in the Treatment of Offenders. Every effort is made to ensure that the GPS is in compliance. The 2014 Strategic Plan on the Renewal and Reconstruction of the Guyana Prison Service reinforces the strategic enhancement of prison conditions and a shift to corrections and rehabilitation.
  2. These reforms are aimed at reintegrating prisoners and especially first offenders139 and young inmates with basic literacy programmes, anger management and other psycho-social progammes coupled with technical vocational training. The involvement of men’s groups and religious organizations are assisting in actively engaging young people within the prison system. These measures have contributed significantly to a reduction of protests by prisoners in relation to prison conditions.
  3. In 2013, the total number of prisoners was 1998140 with 1928 males and 70 females. Of these 711 were on pre-trial (remand) detention and 1287 sentenced.141 The total prison population, remand and convicted, are accommodated in 5 male prisons and one female prison.
  4. The Prison Act provides for the appointment a Visiting Committee at each Prison which monitor prison conditions to ensure that these are in keeping with the statutes. Each Visiting Committee is appointed by the Minister f Home Affairs and comprised of members of civil society such as the Guyana Human Rights Association, the business and religious communities. These bodies142 report to the Minister on a regular basis and make recommendations for improvements and are expected to report any observations or concerns they have about the treatment of prisoners and their welfare. Any matter/s of mistreatment or torture reported to them is investigated with a view of disciplinary action being taken against any rank/s found guilty.
  5. There is one juvenile offenders centre, the New Opportunity Corps, with approx 150 students.
  6. In keeping with Article 37 of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, children who come into contact with the law are held separately from adults. A juvenile who has been apprehended by the Police is separated in the police precinct from the adults prior to being taken before a Magistrate. Police Standing Orders No. 90 with other Force Standing Orders143 sets out the guidelines for Care and Custody of children and young persons (Juvenile) in lock ups.
  7. It is the policy that juveniles who are arrested are brought before the courts at the earliest date or released into the custody of their parents or guardian who enter into a recognisance until the hearing of the case.

A/HRC/WG.6/21/GUY/1

23

  1. Despite special attention given to the general layout of lock ups including better sanitation facilities and increased training of ranks144, there have been cases of police abuse. (see Para #184)
  2. There has been no reported case of torture of inmates in prison.
  3. Efforts to improve conditions of prisons and welfare and rights of prisoners are ongoing.

Broadcasting

Recommendation 69.31

  1. The Broadcasting Act 2011145 provides for the establishment of the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority with responsibility for the regulation, supervision and development of the National Broadcasting System and the broadcasting policy.
  2. The Guyana National Broadcasting Authority was appointed in October 2012.
  3. In 2013, 11 television, 10 radio and 6 cable broadcasting companies met the requirements to be licensed under the provisions of the new law.146

Conclusion

  1. Guyana has made significant efforts to meet most of the commitments it made to the UNHRC in 2010. Although Guyana has a strong constitutional, legal and policy framework for the promotion and protection of human rights, supported by an independent judiciary, it faces many challenges internally and at the regional and international levels. These continue to relate to available human, financial and technical resources in order to more effectively and efficiently implement the many initiatives, policies, statutes and programmes.
  2. In the face of serious threats at the time of reporting to Guyana’s parliamentary democracy, Guyana will continue to make efforts to support the role of the UN human rights system, including the UPR, within available means and prevailing conditions.

LEAVE A REPLY

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.