Head of state and government
Bharrat Jagdeo
Death penalty
0.8 million
Life expectancy
67.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)
66/47 per 1,000

At least one person was shot by police in circumstances suggesting it may have been an unlawful killing. Indigenous Peoples continued to face obstacles to realizing their land rights. At least one person was sentenced to death; no executions were carried out.


Guyana’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in September. The authorities supported a number of recommendations, but rejected a wide range of others. For example, they did not commit to set up an independent inquiry into the deaths of more than 200 people allegedly killed by “death squads” between 2002 and 2006.

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Torture and other ill-treatment

Judicial proceedings against three police officers charged in connection with the torture and ill-treatment in October 2009 of three people, including a 15-year-old boy, in Leonora police station stalled in the courts. One of the victims was reported to have accepted a compensation payment and the relative of another victim stated that the case had been “settled”. The three officers accused in the case remained on active duty at the end of the year.

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Unlawful killings

In June, 16-year-old Kelvin Fraser was fatally wounded by police on the Patentia estate in Essequibo Islands-West Demerara. According to reports, Kelvin Fraser and three youths fled from police investigating complaints that the boys were harassing girl students from the Patentia Secondary School. An officer caught Kelvin Fraser and shot him in the chest while attempting to arrest him. An investigation into the shooting was continuing at the end of the year.

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Indigenous Peoples’ rights

In September, members were appointed to the newly created Indigenous Peoples’ Commission. The Commission’s primary functions include promoting and protecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and making recommendations on economic and education policies to advance their interests.

Indigenous land claims continued to be addressed under the 2006 Amerindian Act. However, Indigenous Peoples alleged that poor demarcation processes were allowing the government to take over traditional lands and that in some areas demarcation had taken place without the free, prior and informed consent of the communities affected.

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Violence against women and girls

Levels of violence against women and girls remained high. According to UNIFEM, one in four women in Guyana has been physically abused in a relationship.

In April, the Sexual Offences Act was passed by the National Assembly. The Act, which includes provisions widening the definition of rape and criminalizing rape within marriage, was welcomed as an important step in the eradication of sexual violence.

A Task Force, set up to develop and co-ordinate implementation of the National Plan for the Prevention of Sexual Offences, met for the first time in October.

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Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

Sex between men remained a criminal offence punishable by lengthy prison terms. Laws dating from the former colonial administration continued to be used to discriminate against transgender people.

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Right to health – HIV/AIDS

Stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV/AIDS remained a barrier to the successful implementation of treatment.

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Death penalty

At least one person was sentenced to death in 2010. More than 30 people remained on death row at the end of the year. There were no executions during 2010; the last execution took place in 1997.

An amendment to the Criminal Law (Offences) Act, which abolishes mandatory death sentences for murder, passed into law in October. However, the government rejected calls for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.

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Human rights by region

World regions Midde East and North Africa Asia Pacific Europe and Central Asia Africa Americas


A number of countries in Africa celebrated the 50th anniversary of their independence during the year while others prep ...


In the Americas many human rights have been recognized in law, if not always in practice, over the past 50 years. Whi ...

Asia Pacific

In a region with almost two thirds of the world’s population, stretching a third of the way around the planet, ...

Europe & Central Asia

The right to truth and justice, and the determination of victims and their relatives to achieve this how ...

Middle East and North Africa

2010 dawned with Yemen an unusual focus of international attention following an alleged terrorist ...

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