Guyana took credible steps to identify & punish persons for human rights abuses – US State Dept

…says no significant changes in human rights situation in Guyana for 2023

The United States (US) State Department has given Guyana a green light when it comes to the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s human rights record last year, noting in its latest country report that the government “took credible steps” to identify and punish those accused of human rights abuses.
In its 2023 Human Rights Report on Guyana, the US State Department identified significant human rights issues as the “arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings; extensive gender-based violence, including domestic or intimate partner violence and sexual violence; laws criminalising consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men, which were not enforced; and existence of the worst forms of child labor.”
The report noted that there were no significant changes in the human rights situation of Guyana last year from the government. Further, the report explained that the government “took credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses.”
According to the report, there were no allegations of disappearances by, or on behalf of the government, nor were there any credible reports of torture or any other form of “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” being made.
It explained that arbitrary arrest and detention is prohibited by the constitution and that persons had a legal right to challenge the lawfulness of their arrest or detention in court. According to the report, these requirements were generally observed by the government.
The report did reference the case of the New Year’s Day fatal shooting of a Police corporal and a fisherman, which resulted in two Police ranks being placed on open arrest. Police Corporal Dwayne McPherson, 31, who had been stationed at the Mahaicony Police Station, and 20-year-old fisherman Kishan Budburgh of Grove, Huntley, Mahaicony, were both killed. Eventually, charges were filed against Officer Shane James.
The report’s other observances were that “the constitution provided for the right to a fair and public trial, and the judiciary generally enforced this right. While the law recognised the right to legal counsel, this right was limited to those who could afford to pay, except in cases involving capital crimes. Although there was no formal public defender system, a defendant in a murder case that reached the High Court could receive a court-appointed attorney.”
Only last month, Guyana participated at the United Nations 140th Session of the Human Rights Committee held in Geneva, Switzerland. Accompanying Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Minister Gail Teixeira on the Guyanese delegation before the UN Human Rights Committee were representatives from the Ministries of Health; Home Affairs; Human Services and Social Security; Natural Resources; Amerindian Affairs; and Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Guyana Prison Service; Guyana Police Force; Guyana Geology and Mines Commission; Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions; and the Permanent Mission of Guyana to the United Nations Office at Geneva. The Human Rights Committee’s 140th session was held from March 4 to March 28, 2024.
In January, it was revealed that there are nine human rights complaints that were filed by local organisations against the Guyana Government to international bodies – Government views as the confidence of these local entities in the reporting system rather than a human right violation.
Between 1999 to 2015, only four Petitions were filed against Guyana at the various international agencies such the United Nations’ (UN’s) Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an arm of the Organization of American States (OAS). On the other hand, none was filed from 2015 to 2020. (G3)