Guyana
Head of state and government
Donald Ramotar (replaced Bharrat Jagdeo in December)
Death penalty
retentionist
Population
0.8 million
Life expectancy
69.9 years
Under-5 mortality
35.3 per 1,000

State response to violence against women remained inadequate. At least three people were sentenced to death; no executions were carried out.

Background

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 be unsatisfactory.

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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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Right to health – HIV/AIDS

Stigma and discrimination surrounding HIV/AIDS and the criminalization of sex between men continued to be a barrier to accessing HIV-related information, testing and treatment. Following consultation with civil society, a motion to criminalize wilful HIV transmission was rejected by a parliamentary select committee in September, on the grounds that it might discourage individuals from seeking tests and increase stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS.

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Death penalty

At least three people were sentenced to death and 34 people remained on death row at the end of the year. Guyana’s last execution took place in 1997. At the end of the year constitutional motions were pending before the High Court to overturn the death sentences of two prisoners on the grounds that the length of time they had spent on death row – 23 and 16 years – constituted cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Both men remained on death row at the end of the year.

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