Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Joined United Nations: 20 September 1966
Human Rights as assured by their constitution
Updated 09 October 2012
note: estimates for this country explicitly take into account the effects of
excess mortality due to AIDS; this can result in lower life expectancy, higher
infant mortality and death rates, lower population and growth rates, and
changes in the distribution of population by age and sex than would otherwise
be expected (July 2012 est.)
President since 03 December 2011
President elected by popular vote as leader of a party list in
parliamentary elections, which must be held at least every five
years (no term limits); elections last held 28 November 2011
Next scheduled election: November 2015
HEAD OF GOVERNMENT
Prime Minister since 01 October 1992
Prime minister appointed by the president
|DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
East Indian 43.5%, black (African) 30.2%, mixed 16.7%, Amerindian 9.1%, other 0.5% (2002 census)
Protestant 30.5% (Pentecostal 16.9%, Anglican 6.9%, Seventh-Day Adventist 5%, Methodist 1.7%), Hindu 28.4%, Roman Catholic 8.1%,
Jehovah's Witnesses 1.1%, Muslim 7.2%, other Christian 17.7%, other 4.3%, none 4.3% (2002 census)
Republic with 10 regions. Legal system is based on English common law with certain admixtures of Roman-Dutch law; has not
accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Executive: President elected by popular vote as leader of a party list in parliamentary elections, which must be held at least every five years
(no term limits); elections last held 28 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2015); prime minister appointed by the president
Legislative: Unicameral National Assembly (65 members elected by popular vote, also not more than four non-elected non-voting
ministers and two non-elected non-voting parliamentary secretaries appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 28 November 2011 (next to be held by November 2016))
Judicial: Supreme Court of Judicature, consisting of the High Court and the Judicial Court of Appeal, with right of final appeal to
the Caribbean Court of Justice
English, Amerindian dialects, Creole, Caribbean Hindustani (a dialect of Hindi), Urdu
The history of Guyana begins before the arrival of Europeans, when the region of present-day Guyana was inhabited by Carib,
Arawak, and Warao peoples. The word Guiana probably comes from the Arawak words "wai ana" which means (land of) many
waters. Some 70,000 amerindians still live in Guyana, primarily in the country's interior. Guyana's first sighting by Europeans was by
Alonzo de Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. Christopher Columbus did not sight Guyana on his third voyage of discovery
which started in 1498. The coastline of the country was first traced by Spanish sailors in 1499 and 1500; and during the 16th and
early 17th centuries, the search for the fabulous city of El Dorado - forever linked in British minds, with exploits of Sir Walter
Raleigh - stimulated exploration of this region. In 1595 the area was explored by English explorers under Sir Walter Raleigh. Little is
known of the first settlements, though they were almost certainly Spanish or Portuguese. The Dutch began exploring and settling in
Guyana in the late 16th century, followed by the English. Both began trading with the Amerindian peoples upriver. The first known
Dutch expedition to coast of Guyana, led by Capt. A Cabeliau, came in 1598. The first Dutch settlement was established on the
Pomeroon River in 1581. The settlers were evicted by Spaniards and Indians, probably in 1596. The evicted settlers retired to
Kyk-over-al (Look-over-everything) on the Essequibo River, where the Dutch West India Company established a fort in
1616-1621 in what they called the County of Essequibo. In 1627 a settlement was founded in the Berbice River by Abraham van
Pere, a Flushing merchant, and held by him under a licence (issued 12 July 1627) from the Company. Some historians believe that
van Pere was a member of a Portuguese Jewish refugee family. He sent 40 men and 20 boys to settle at Nassau, about 50 miles
upriver. Van Pere had a good knowledge of the territory since he had apparently been trading with the Amerindians of the area for
a few years before 1627. He later applied his trading skills when he was contracted by the Zeeland Chamber to supply goods from
Europe to the Dutch settlements in Essequibo. At Nassau, where Fort Nassau was built, the settlers planted crops and traded with
Amerindians. African slaves were introduced shortly after the settlement was established to cultivate sugar and cotton. The situation
was very peaceful until 1665 when the settlement was attacked by an English privateer. However, the colonists put up a strong
defence and it left after causing some damage to the settlement. Between 1675 and 1716 all the cultivation on lands in British
Guiana took place upstream. Finding the soil on the coastlands more fertile, the settlers gradually moved down river. In 1741
English Settlers from Barbados and Antigua began to build river dams and drainage sluices in the Essequibo River islands, and later
tried to reclaim the fertile tidal marshes in Demerara. Until 1804 there were estates, now forgotten, Sandy Point and Kierfield, on
the seaward side of the present seawall of Georgetown. As attempts at settling inland failed, the Europeans were forced to settle on
the coast in the mid-1700s, where they created plantations worked by African slaves. The main crops were coffee, cotton, and
sugar, the last of which soon become the main crop. The soil quality was poor, however. The slaves, led by Cuffy, (Guyana's
national hero), revolted in 1763 in what became known as the Berbice slave revolt. In 1746 colonists from Essequibo and
Caribbean islands settled along the Demerara River. In 1773 Demerara was granted a certain degree of autonomy, and in 1784 the
capital was transferred there, while Berbice continued under a separate government. This arrangement survived under the British
administration until 1831. The first English attempt at settlement in this area was made in 1604 by Captain Charles Leigh on the
Oyapock River (in what is now French Guyana). The effort failed. A fresh attempt was made by Robert Harcourt in 1609. Lord
Willoughby, famous in the early history of Barbados, also turned his attention to Guiana, and founded a settlement in Suriname in
1651. This was captured by the Dutch in 1667, and though later recaptured by the British, it was ceded to the Dutch at the Peace
of Breda. Britain took the region from the Dutch in 1796. The Dutch took it back in 1802, before being ousted again by the British
in 1803. Immediately after the British took possession of Essequibo-Demerara and Berbice they began to implement changes in the
administration of the colonies with the aim of removing the strong Dutch influence. In 1806 the slave trade was abolished in the two
colonies, as well as in Trinidad; final abolition occurred in other British territories during the following year. Regulations were put in
place to prevent transfer of slaves from one colony to another, but this did not prevent trafficking in slaves from the Caribbean
islands to Berbice and Demerara-Essequibo. The colonies of Essequibo, Demerara, and Berbice were officially ceded to the United
Kingdom in the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 and at the Congress of Vienna in 1815. In 1831 they were consolidated as British
Guiana. A further rebellion by ten to twelve thousand slaves in Demerara in 1823 resulted in the trial and execution of thirty-three
slaves and the trial and conviction of missionary John Smith. When slavery was abolished in 1834, the Afro-Guyanese refused to
work for wages, and many scattered into the bush. This forced many plantations to close or consolidate. Thousands of indentured
laborers were brought to Guyana to replace the slaves on the sugarcane plantations, primarily from India, but also from Portugal and
China. This provided the basis for the racial tension that was encouraged and manipulated later, at the point where Guyana made its
bid for independence, and to the present day. However, Guyanese culture is in many ways homogeneous, due to shared history,
intermarriage, and other factors. Despite the recruitment of West Indian, African and Portuguese and other European labourers, this
did not help very much to ease the labour shortage of the 1830s. After the West Indian islands placed restrictions on emigration, the
sugar planters in Guyana began to look further afield to obtain a large labour force. One of them, John Gladstone, the father of the
British statesman, applied for permission from the Secretary of State for the Colonies to recruit Indians to serve in Guyana for a
five-year period of indenture. Guyanese politics occasionally have been turbulent. The first modern political party in Guyana was the
People's Progressive Party (PPP), established on January 1, 1950, with Forbes Burnham, a British-educated Afro-Guyanese, as
chairman; Dr. Cheddi Jagan, a U.S.-educated Indo-Guyanese, as second vice chairman; his American-born wife, Janet Jagan, as
secretary general and Lionel Jeffries (no relation to the British actor of the same name) as Treasurer. The PPP won 18 out of 24
seats in the first popular elections permitted by the colonial government in 1953. Dr. Jagan became leader of the house and minister
of agriculture in the colonial government. However, Jagan's Marxist views caused concern in Washington. On October 9, 1953, five
months after his election, the British suspended the constitution and landed troops because, they said, the Jagans and the PPP were
planning to make Guyana a communist state. Among the troops sent were the 2nd Battalion of the Scottish regiment, The Black
Watch (Royal Highlanders), who arrived in 1954. Their unusual regalia and their bagpipe music made them quite conspicuous. Self
rule was achieved on 26 August 1961. The Premier and a Cabinet of Ministers had authority over internal matters only. The British
Governor had veto powers over the elected legislature. The bi-cameral House of Assembly consisted of a lower house, the
Legislative Council and an upper house, the Senate. From the latter part of 1963, through the early part of 1964, came the period
euphemistically called "The Disturbances" by the British. The governments of The UK and the USA joined forces to destabilize the
Guyanese political landscape, with the U.S. providing intelligence and infiltration (through the American Institute for Free Labor
Development (AIFLD)), while the British brought in brute force. Guyana achieved independence on May 26, 1966, and became
the Co-operative Republic of Guyana on February 23, 1970 - the anniversary of the Cuffy slave rebellion - with a new constitution.
From December 1964 until his death in August 1985, Forbes Burnham ruled Guyana in an increasingly autocratic manner, first as
Prime Minister and later, after the adoption of a new constitution in 1980 (declaring Guyana to be in transition from capitalism to
socialism and allowing an elected President and Prime Minister appointed by the president), as Executive President. In 1974 the
Guyanese government allowed the religious group the Peoples Temple, led by the American Jim Jones, to build a 300-acre
settlement (called Jonestown) in the north-west of the country. Following increasing concern about abuses at Jonestown, US
Congressman Leo Ryan agreed to conduct a fact-finding mission to the settlement, accompanied by concerned relatives and media
persons, on 14 November 1978. Whilst boarding a plane, the company was fired upon; several people, including Ryan, were killed.
This was then followed by the mass-suicide, at Jones's instigation, of all 900 people at Jonestown. When President Jagan died of a
heart attack in March 1997, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds replaced him in accordance with constitutional provisions, with his widow
Janet Jagan as Prime Minister. She was then elected President on 15th December 1997 for the PPP. Desmond Hoyte's PNC
contested the results however, resulting in strikes, riots and 1 death before a Caricom mediating committee was brought in. Janet
Jagan's PPP government was sworn in on 24th December having agreed to a constitutional review and to hold elections within three
years, though Hoyte refused to recognise her government. Severe flooding following torrential rainfall wreaked havoc in Guyana
beginning in January 2005. The downpour, which lasted about six weeks, inundated the coastal belt, caused the deaths of 34
people, and destroyed large parts of the rice and sugarcane crops. In May 2008, President Bharrat Jagdeo was a signatory to the
The UNASUR Constitutive Treaty of the Union of South American Nations. Guyana has ratified the treaty.
Source: Wikipedia: History of Guyana
The Guyanese economy exhibited moderate economic growth in recent years and is based largely on agriculture and extractive
industries. The economy is heavily dependent upon the export of six commodities - sugar, gold, bauxite, shrimp, timber, and rice -
which represent nearly 60% of the country's GDP and are highly susceptible to adverse weather conditions and fluctuations in
commodity prices. Guyana's entrance into the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) in January 2006 has broadened the
country's export market, primarily in the raw materials sector. Guyana has experienced positive growth almost every year over the
past decade. Inflation has been kept under control. Recent years have seen the Government's stock of debt reduced significantly -
with external debt now less than half of what it was in the early 1990s. Chronic problems include a shortage of skilled labor and a
deficient infrastructure. Despite recent improvements, the government is still juggling a sizable external debt against the urgent need
for expanded public investment. In March 2007, the Inter-American Development Bank, Guyana's principal donor, canceled
Guyana's nearly $470 million debt, equivalent to 21% of GDP, which along with other Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) debt
forgiveness brought the debt-to-GDP ratio down from 183% in 2006 to 120% in 2007. Guyana became heavily indebted as a
result of the inward-looking, state-led development model pursued in the 1970s and 1980s. Growth slowed in 2009 as a result of
the world recession, but picked up in 2010-11. The slowdown in the domestic economy and lower import costs helped to narrow
the country's current account deficit, despite generally lower earnings from exports.
Source: CIA World Factbook (select Guyana)
Race and ideology have been the dominant political influences in Guyana. Since the split of the multiracial PPP in 1955, politics has
been based more on ethnicity than on ideology. From 1964 to 1992, the PNC dominated Guyana's politics. The PNC draws its
support primarily from urban Blacks, and for many years declared itself a socialist party whose purpose was to make Guyana a
nonaligned socialist state, in which the party, as in communist countries, was above all other institutions.
The overwhelming majority of Guyanese of East Indian extraction traditionally have backed the People's Progressive Party, headed
by the Jagans. Rice farmers and sugar workers in the rural areas form the bulk of PPP's support, but Indo-Guyanese who dominate
the country's urban business community also have provided important support. The PNC, which won just under 40% of the vote,
disputed the results of the 1997 elections, alleging electoral fraud. Public demonstrations and some violence followed, until a
CARICOM team came to Georgetown to broker an accord between the two parties, calling for an international audit of the
election results, a redrafting of the constitution, and elections under the constitution within 3 years. Elections took place on 19
March 2001. Over 150 international observers representing six international missions witnessed the polling. The observers
pronounced the elections fair and open although marred by some administrative problems.
General elections were held in Guyana on 28 November 2011. The result was a victory for the People's Progressive Party, which
won 32 of the 65 seats. The PPP/C won for the fifth straight time, but with a minority government. PPP/C candidate Donald
Ramotar was elected President, but the opposition parties won a majority in the National Assembly. Hinds was sworn in as Prime
Minister again on 5 December 2011.
Source: Wikipedia: Politics of Guyana
All of the area west of the Essequibo River is claimed by Venezuela preventing any discussion of a maritime boundary; Guyana has
expressed its intention to join Barbados in asserting claims before UNCLOS that Trinidad and Tobago's maritime boundary with
Venezuela extends into their waters; Suriname claims a triangle of land between the New and Kutari/Koetari rivers in a historic
dispute over the headwaters of the Courantyne; Guyana seeks arbitration under provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the
Sea (UNCLOS) to resolve the long-standing dispute with Suriname over the axis of the territorial sea boundary in potentially
Transshipment point for narcotics from South America - primarily Venezuela - to Europe and the US; producer of cannabis;
rising money laundering related to drug trafficking and human smuggling
|HUMAN RIGHTS STATEMENTS, ANALYSIS AND CRITIQUES
|2011 Human Rights Report: Guyana
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
2011 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
May 25. 2012
The Cooperative Republic of Guyana is a multiparty democracy. On November 28, voters elected Donald Ramotar of the People’s
Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) to be president, replacing Bharrat Jagdeo of the same party. However, the PPP/C won only 48.6
percent of the vote, and President Ramotar presides over the first minority government in parliament since independence in 1966.
International and local observers considered the elections to be generally free, transparent, and peaceful. Security forces reported to
The most serious human rights abuses involved complaints of mistreatment of suspects and detainees by security forces, unlawful
killings by police, and poor prison and jail conditions.
Other human rights problems included lengthy pretrial detention; allegations of government corruption, including among police
officials; sexual and domestic violence against women; and abuse of minors.
There were no independent and transparent procedures for handling allegations of killings and other abuses by security force
members. Prosecutions when pursued were extremely lengthy, and convictions were rare. As a result there was a widespread
perception that security force members enjoyed impunity.
Click here to read more »
27 February 2009
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Tenth session Agenda item 3
PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF ALL HUMAN RIGHTS, CIVIL, POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND
CULTURAL RIGHTS, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
Report of the independent expert on minority issues*
MISSION TO GUYANA**
The independent expert on minority issues, Ms. Gay McDougall, visited Guyana between 28 July and 1 August 2008. During her
visit, she travelled to Georgetown and surrounding communities. She held consultations with the State President, ministers and other
senior government representatives, NGOs, civil society groups, political parties, religious leaders, academics and others working in
the field of minority issues and anti-discrimination. The independent expert visited communities, including Buxton, and talked to
community members about their lives and issues.
In July 2003, the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
highlighted that he found that every level of Guyanese society is permeated by a profound moral, emotional and political fatigue,
arising out of the individual and collective impact of ethnic polarization In 2008, the independent expert witnessed a continuing
societal malaise that shows evidence of having deepened and transformed in some instances into despair, anger and resistance. This
is particularly evident among Afro-Guyanese individuals and communities that reported feeling excluded, discriminated against and
Ethnically divided political and administrative structures and failed political processes have created deep frustrations and distrust in
the institution of government. A climate of suspicion, rumour and conspiracy theory exists in Guyana which has been fuelled by
exceptionally violent incidents in 2008. Two separate and conflicting narratives and perceptions of reality have emerged among
Afro- and Indo-Guyanese, which threaten to undermine shared values and common goals that are essential to a united, prosperous
The independent expert recognizes commendable steps on the part of the Government to date to address issues of ethnic tensions,
criminal activities and economic underdevelopment. However, further effective action is required urgently to restore confidence in
good governance and the rule of law among all communities, and prevent an inexorable slide into further polarization and possible
violence. A new era of political will and strong, visionary leadership is required to realize change and reverse the economic and
social stagnation that is evident in a divided Guyana.
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Freedom In The World 2012 Report
Political Rights Score: 2
Civil Liberties Score: 3
The ruling alliance of the People’s Progressive Party and the Civic Party (PPP-C) won reelection in November 2011 over the newly
formed opposition group Partnership Through National Unity. The PPP-C’s Donald Ramotar became president of Guyana in
Guyanese politics are dominated by a tense split between descendants of indentured workers from India, known as Indo-Guyanese,
who generally back the PPP-C, and Afro-Guyanese, who largely support the PNC-Reform (PNC-R) party. In 2004, the political
climate showed brief signs of improving when the PPP-C and PNC-R announced that they had reached agreement on a wide
variety of issues. However, the emerging harmony was disrupted when a police informant revealed the existence of death squads
that enjoyed official sanction and had killed some 64 people. An investigation exposed apparent links to the home affairs minister,
Ronald Gajraj, but he was largely exonerated by an official inquiry in 2005.
In the run-up to the 2006 legislative elections, Agriculture Minister Satyadeo Sawh was brutally slain by masked gunmen, and four
newspaper employees were shot dead on the outskirts of the capital. The elections were delayed by several weeks as deep conflicts
within the seven-member Guyana Elections Commission undermined the credibility of the process. Nevertheless, the elections took
place without incident in August, due in part to the presence of international observers. The PPP-C emerged victorious, with
President Jagdeo securing another five-year term.
In November 2011 elections, the PPP-C’s reelection bid was led by 61-year-old Donald Ramotar, an economist. Denis Marshall,
the chairperson of a Commonwealth Observer Group for the 2011 national and regional elections in Guyana noted that, despite
some minor issues, the elections represented progress in strengthening Guyana’s democratic processes. The PPP-C captured 32
seats, while the newly established Partnership For National Unity took 26 seats, and the Alliance For Change (AFC) won 7 seats.
Ramotar became president in December.
Guyana is an electoral democracy. The 1980 constitution provides for a strong president and a 65-seat National Assembly, with
members elected every five years. Two additional, nonvoting members are appointed by the president. The leader of the party with
a plurality of parliamentary seats becomes president for a five-year term and appoints the prime minister and cabinet.
Violence against women, including domestic abuse, is widespread. Rape often goes unreported and is rarely prosecuted. The
Guyana Human Rights Association has charged that the legal system’s treatment of victims of sexual violence is intentionally
humiliating. The 2010 Sexual Offenses Act makes rape gender-neutral and expands its definition to include spousal rape and
coercion and child abuse; the new law also provides for offenses committed against the mentally disabled. Sodomy is punishable
with a maximum sentence of life in prison, and cross-dressing is criminalized for both men and women. In February 2010, the
Society against Sexual Orientation Discrimination filed a motion with the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the law
banning cross-dressing; a hearing on the issue is expected by mid-2012.
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Annual Report 2012
24 May 2012
State response to violence against women remained inadequate. At least three people were sentenced to death; no executions were
The People’s Progressive Party won its fifth successive election in December, although it lost its parliamentary majority. A coalition
of opposition parties claimed that irregularities had occurred during the elections. An investigation was ongoing at the end of the
year into the police’s firing on an opposition demonstration on 6 December which left several people injured.
Police and security forces
There were reports of ill-treatment of detainees in police stations and allegations that the practice of holding people without charge
beyond the stipulated 72-hour time period was widespread.
Torture and other ill-treatment
In June, Guyana’s High Court awarded damages against two police officers accused of torturing a 14-year-old boy in Leonora
police station in October 2009, as well as against the Commissioner of Police and the Attorney General. The Court found that the
boy had suffered “torture and cruel and inhuman treatment”. An appeal by the state was pending at the end of the year and the
accused officers remained on active duty.
Violence against women and girls
Implementation of the Sexual Offences Act, passed in April 2010, remained slow. The Act created a National Task Force for the
Prevention of Sexual Violence. This was required to meet at least every three months, but by the end of 2011 it had only met once.
The Task Force is charged with developing and implementing a National Plan for the Prevention of Sexual Offences. Women’s
rights organizations deemed the general response from the police and the courts to complaints of domestic and sexual violence to
Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people
There were reports of police harassment of transgender sex workers, including through the use of arbitrary detention. A
constitutional motion seeking to repeal an article from the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act, which criminalizes cross-dressing
and is often used by police to harass sex workers, was pending before the High Court at the end of the year. The motion was
brought by four people who were charged and fined under the legislation in February 2009 and seeks its repeal on the grounds that
it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.
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Guyana: Stop Dress Code Arrests
Repeal Discriminatory Laws
March 5, 2009
(Georgetown) - Guyana should halt arrests and police abuse of transgender people and repeal a repressive law that criminalizes
wearing clothes considered appropriate only for the opposite sex, six human rights organizations said today in a letter to President
The letter was signed by the Caribbean Forum for Liberation of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS), Global Rights, Guyana
Rainbow Foundation (Guybow), Human Rights Watch, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), and
the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD). They called on the Guyanese authorities to drop the charges
against seven people arrested under the law in February, 2009, and investigate allegations of abuse by the police.
"Police are using archaic laws to violate basic freedoms," said Scott Long director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender
Rights Program at Human Rights Watch. "This is a campaign meant to drive people off the streets simply because they dress or act
in ways that transgress gender norms."
Between February 6 and 10, police in the Guyanese capital, Georgetown, detained at least eight people, some of them twice,
charging seven of them under section 153 (1) (xlvii) of the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 8:02. This criminalizes as
a minor offense the "wearing of female attire by man; wearing of male attire by women."
Officers took the detainees to Brickdam police station. The detainees reported to SASOD Guyana, a local human rights organization
working for the freedoms of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, that police refused to allow them to make a phone call
or contact a lawyer, both basic rights under Guyanese law.
The detainees reported that police officers photographed them and then told them to take off all of their "female clothes" in front of
several police officers. One defendant told rights organizations that after the detainees stripped, the police told them to bend down
to "search" them, as a way to mock them for their sexual orientation. They were then ordered to put on "men's clothing."
Police kept five of the men in solitary confinement until the day of the trial, contending that it was for their safety.
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SPECIAL ADDRESS TO THE NATION BY HIS EXCELLENCY, DONALD RAMOTAR PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC
Friday, 27 April 2012 00:00
My Dear country men, women, and youth:
The PPP/Civic has always been ready to consult and to meet with the opposition and all stakeholders in the interest of advancing
the socio-economic interests of our people.Even before I was sworn in as President; I agreed to meet and did meet the opposition
parties. We met on other occasions at short notice to discuss matters of national interest.
On my instruction, the contracts of all the projects which they queried were made available publicly and to APNU and the AFC.
We also laid in Parliament all the documents they requested in relation to projects. I even invited them to a full presentation of the
Amaila Falls Project in which all their questions were answered. We even told them that if they had any other questions or
concerns we were willing to answer them. We have been open and frank at all times with the Opposition.
Unfortunately, the combined Opposition has conspired and ended up retarding the development taking place in the country. Their
actions now threaten the many transformative projects that your government has started and delayed the commencement of others
in the pipeline. By putting workers on the breadline, they have demonstrated a callous and mean-spirited attitude. The inexplicable
and unfathomable cuts instituted by the opposition to our National Budget constitute an ominous threat to the livelihood of
Guyanese and to future generations. These reductions in our Budget provisions assail not just workers rights but also threaten to
reverse the gains which our people, through hard work and sacrifice, have earned over the years. The cuts constitute an assault on
workers, their living standards, on economic growth, national unity, freedom of expression and our democratic gains.
In spite of this, my faith in dialogue remains undiminished. I still hold to the view that dialogue with all Guyanese, including the
political parties, is the best way for us to narrow our differences and reach consensus on the way forward. However dialogue
cannot be constructive or productive when the other side is intransigent or adopt an “all or nothing” posture.
I remain optimistic. I have inestimable [profound] faith in the people of this country and their ability to overcome the challenges
presented by the developments of the past few days.
I want to assure all Guyana that the steps and decisions my Government takes in the coming period will be guided by the national
interest and commitment to the well-being of the people of this country. I am confident that we will overcome the present setback.
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Guyana: Police crisis – commentary
Stabroek News – October 8, 2012
Just when one thought it impossible that the police could slip further into the reckless use of firearms and unprofessionalism, law
enforcers have been caught up in a shooting outside of a popular city establishment which has left bystander Mr Dameon Belgrave
of Pouderoyen dead.
There are several features of this police operation that underline emphatically the dire shortcomings of the force and the need for
emergency action. By their own account, the police force detected a motor vehicle operating in a suspicious manner in `B’ Field,
Sophia. The occupants of the vehicle were challenged but they managed to get away. One wonder whether force members are
equipped with the necessary training to quickly intercept and cut off vehicles in these circumstances.
What made it worse was that by their own admission again “a chase ensued around the streets of Georgetown”. The police should
explain why in the many minutes from `B’ Field, Sophia, around the city of Georgetown and finally to Hadfield Street that the
chasing police car was unable to phone in or radio for interception help from the many police stations and outposts between the
two points. It seems that not a single other police unit was pressed into service to throw up a roadblock at a convenient point or to
cut off an escape route. It exposes again the completely uncoordinated manner in which police patrols operate and which was on
show during the post-2002 crime spree years.
The most appalling feature of this exercise however was the decision to shoot which led to Mr Belgrave’s death. Again by their
own account, the police said the motor car being chased, PGG 3506, “eventually stopped in Hadfield Street and five men exited the
vehicle. During efforts to arrest them rounds were discharged and it was later learnt that Dameon Belgrave, 21 years, of Middle
Street, Pouderoyen, WBD, who was standing on the roadway in the vicinity of the White Castle Fish Shop had been shot to his left
On Friday night the Fish Shop is a busy place with many people hanging around the area. For any policeman to conceive of firing
amid a crowded area and in respect of an incident which did not have the hallmarks of a serious crime is beyond comprehension.
Whoever fired – and it may have been more than one policeman – showed absolutely no judgement.
In the midst of what is probably its most serious crisis in 20 years of PPP/C governance, the force announced within hours of the
incident that the three ranks who were on the mobile patrol had been placed under close arrest. This is in contradistinction to its
handling of the shocking killing of Mr Shaquille Grant in Agricola – where in the face of even more compelling eyewitness accounts
of atrocities, the police allowed two of the ranks involved their freedom and they have now apparently fled the jurisdiction and will
not be appearing to hear the charge of murder against them.
While the patrolmen are under close arrest what should one say about their trainers, commanding officers, station heads and
All of this is on top of a stream of other serious matters including the rape allegations which forced the resignation of the late Police
Commissioner, Mr Henry Greene, the alleged rape of a woman in the Enmore police outpost, the fatal riddling with bullets of a
pillion rider in the city, the shooting of protesters in the city with rubber bullets last year and, of course, the July 18 killings in
Linden which are now the subject of a Commission of Inquiry that includes regional jurists.
While the Commission will pronounce on the matter in due course it is worth pointing out that even though there were dozens of
policemen on the ground around the Wismar bridge and nearby on that fateful evening, the force was unable to provide a formal
report on who was responsible for the shootings or even a plausible scenario for what had occurred. This is despite weeks
elapsing before the final agreement to have a Commission of Inquiry. It must be the clearest evidence yet that at the scene of a
major incident with numerous police on the ground the Guyana Police Force is signally incapable of arresting the situation and
holding the guilty accountable. On the other hand it could simply be a case of the GPF trying to cover its tracks and avoid blame
for the shooting.
The truth of the matter is that the police have been in crisis for many years now. The force is not going through a bad patch or
beset by a series of freak occurrences. It is thoroughly in the clutches of an emergency that strikes at the core of basic and
fundamental policing concepts. Unfortunately, it won’t be able to extricate itself on its own from this crisis. After all, it is the
cloying and insufferable interference by the government that has played a major role in this. It is the government that now must
accept that its politicization in 1992 of an already weakened, corruption-ridden and dispirited police force has unhinged it
irreversibly from professional standards.
As we said earlier this year it cannot be business as usual for the police force. The report of the Wolfe Commission will serve as a
useful marker on the way forward but there are others which have comprehensively trawled the grounds of law enforcement
deficiencies such as the Symonds Report and the Disciplined Services Commission report. These must together form the basis for
immediate and urgent action.
When Parliament reconvenes next week, the opposition should have on its immediate agenda a debate on the police force as a
matter of urgent public importance. This should lead to a consensus with the government on the bare steps needed to rebuild
confidence in the police force in light of the atrocities that policemen have been recently accused of. It is undoubtedly a matter that
has to be handled sensitively and carefully as the force faces real policing challenges on a number of fronts including the drug
trade. However, continuing along the present pathway is not an option for the police force.
As the Guyana Human Rights Association said on Saturday “The frequency of these incidents demolishes any attempt to explain
them as the work of rotten apples. The police force is systemically incapable of policing the communities in a civilized manner. Ill-
trained police carrying high-powered weapon is a recipe for deadly mistakes.”
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Search heightens for Ombudsman
August 30, 2012
The Office of the Ombudsman may not be empty for long as President Donald Ramotar and Leader of the Opposition, David
Granger, have been discussing this pertinent matter.
According to Dr. Roger Luncheon, Granger has approached the President regarding the appointment of the Ombudsman.
He related that the kind of information provided such as terms and conditions and accommodation gives the impression that the
search is being heightened for the Ombudsman.
“I want to believe that mutual efforts are indeed paying off and that the President and the leader of the Opposition, with whom he is
statutorily obliged to consult on a number of these appointments, that indeed a very useful basis for that consultation is being put in
place,” Dr. Luncheon said.
Recently, leader of Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan said that the President is acting unconstitutionally. He stressed that the
non-appointment of the Ombudsman makes a mockery of the democracy of Guyana’s Constitution.
He had pointed out that annually a budgetary allocation is made for the Office of the Ombudsman, but its substantive office remains
“We can only row and make statements and that we have been doing. A number of persons have talked on this matter. At the
budget debates, a number of speakers indicated that they have been taking moneys out of the budget for the Office of the
Ombudsman. We have a number of persons being paid as staff, but no Ombudsman,” Ramjattan said.
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