A release from the Government of Guyana

Government of Guyana comments on the Advanced Unedited Version of the Concluding Observations.

The State party hereby submits its corrections to factual errors, and comments on the Advanced Unedited Version (AUV) of the Concluding Observations received today emanating from the consideration and review of Guyana’s third periodic report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Guyana uses this opportunity to reiterate concerns it raised in its letter of March 21, 2024,

“the State party wishes to bring to the attention of the Committee that the expectations of a constructive dialogue during the process of review with the Committee, as briefed by both the Commonwealth Small States Office and the technical staff of the UNHRC, have fallen short; the process has not been one of constructive dialogue but which has been grueling and exacerbated by the limited time for responses to, in some cases, detailed and multiple questions.

The State party was also told that the Committee would use information from sources- UN bodies, academic and civil society; we were assured these would be credible sources.

In this regard, the State party wishes to express its disappointment that serious allegations have been leveled by some Committee members against the State party, in particular, the naming of officials of the Government of Guyana that were not based on fact nor from credible sources….

Furthermore, broad statements were made which were not based on fact, or from credible sources… However, when concerns about the credibility of these allegations were raised by the State party, members of the committee stated that their sources were credible…

Therefore, the State party wishes to reiterate, as was said during the process of review, that merely assuming a source to be credible does not guarantee that the information being provided is verifiable and factual.

There are numerous sources of credible and verifiable information which the State party believes appear to have been ignored by the Committee, including Guyana’s many submissions over the last three years in response to UN rapporteurs and independent experts’ calls for information, the annual UNDP Human Development Index, reports from other UN agencies including UNFPA, UNICEF, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, as well as the IMF Article 4 statements on Guyana, World Bank and IDB reports which refer to Guyana, as well as Guyana’s reports on its anti-corruption measures in its 2nd self-assessment to the UN Convention Against Corruption and Guyana’s report to the IACAC MESICIC in 2023 and 2024, and its reports to the EITI 2021 as well as Guyana’s 2023 Voluntary National Review Report to UN, all of which are publicly posted on websites.

Notwithstanding, the State party hereby formally submits to the Committee, the additional information..

The State party trusts that this information will be thoroughly analysed and will inform the Committee’s concluding observations to reflect a fair representation of Guyana’s consistent efforts to ensure that the rights enshrined in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights are promoted and protected to ensure that “no one is left behind.” “

At this time, the state is disheartened to see that most of what is covered in the AUV actually reflects the exact questions that were posed by the Committee from the onset of the review, and were responded to by the State.

The Concluding observations have continuous repetition of allegations and with much regret, the State party notes that instead of heeding requests from the State party to verify information, the AUV Concluding Observations has taken the allegations even further and has now made drastic generalisations, and, has even gone as far as referring to what maybe individual experiences as “widespread.” Furthermore, most disappointing, the Committee has now based its concluding observations and recommendations on these generalisations.

Worse yet, the Committee appears to have flagrantly ignored information provided to the Committee in its 3rd review Report 2021, its initial oral presentation on March 18th, 2024, information provided during the March 18-20th 2024 review, and additional information of over 100 pages provided to the Committee on March 22, 2024.

In keeping with the process, the State party presents its observations about factual errors/corrections, and omissions as well as comments that address the substantive content of some of the recommendations.

Para. Factual Correction Comment
3 The State party wishes to remind the Committee that it reported on numerous other pieces of legislation, policies and plans that have a bearing on this report :   -The Law Reform Commission Act 2021 -The Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act 2021 -Civil Law (Amendment) Act 2021  -Registration of Births and deaths (Amendment) Act 2021 -Natural Resource Fund Act 2021 -Local Content Act 2021 -The Narcotic Drug and Psychotropic Substance (Amendment) Act 2022 -Human Organ and Tissue Transplant Act 2022 – Juvenile Justice (Amendment) Act 2022 -Mental Health Protection and Promotion Act 2022 -Constitution Reform Commission Act 2022 -National Registration (Amendment) Act 2022 -Representation of the People’s (Amendment) Act 2022 -Radiation Safety and Security Act 2023 -Industrial Hemp Act 2023 -Court of Appeal (Amendment) Act 2023 -Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement ) Act 2023 -Electronic Communication and Transactions Act 2023 -Guyana Compliance Act 2023 -Digital Identity Card Act 2023   National Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy 2019-2025   The State party during the entire review process went to great efforts, within a limited timeframe to inform the Committee about the transformation and modernization of the State’s legislative architecture and their impact on citizens’ rights. However, numerous laws outlined were omitted in the Human Rights Committee’s Advanced Unedited Concluding Observations. 
4 The State Party repeatedly stated during the review process that the Constitution is the supreme law and under Article 154A of the Constitution of Guyana, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is afforded constitutional supremacy.   The State party repeatedly stated that Article 154 provides that every person is entitled to the human rights enshrined in the international and regional covenants, conventions and treaties which Guyana has ratified. Article 153(1) allows individuals to seek relief in the courts for any alleged breach of their fundamental rights. Guyana reminds the Committee that several cases were presented during the review process in which the judiciary used the ICCPR in claims of violations of the fundamental rights before them.   Art 154 (6) the State party repeatedly under questioning emphasized that divesting itself of any of the international human rights conventions including the ICCPR would require a 2/3 majority of the legislature.  
5   The State party pointed out that Section 6of Article 154(A) has not hindered or limited the State Party’s obligations from implementing the Covenant.   The State party continues to invest significant resources towards implementing the provisions of the Covenant.  
6 The State party reminds the Committee that the State party repeatedly mentioned during the review process that the removal of the reservation under the Optional Protocol is subject to the 2024 constitutional reform process and the Guyanese people will decide.    
7   The State party repeats that its reservation to the Optional protocol has and does not prevent individuals from enjoying any of their fundamental rights.   Further individuals have used the Optional Protocol to raise their claims of violations of human rights with the UNHRC.  
8 The State party reminds the Committee that it gave detailed information on the four functioning constitutional rights bodies- the Ethnic Relations Commission, the Indigenous Peoples Commission, the Women and Gender Equality Commission and the Rights of the Child Commission. Furthermore it answered and gave information on the Secretariat of the Human Rights Commission. It also stated that the appointment of a Chairperson of the Human RIghts Commission will not bring the Human Rights Commission in line with the Paris Principles with regard to criteria required to be classified as a National Human Rights Institution.   The state party stated that with the entire process of Constitutional reform this like all other articles are open to review.      
9   The Committee may wish to revise these recommendations based on information provided by the State party.    
10 The state party responded to issues raised by the Committee during the review and subsequently in additional information with data regarding the anti-corruption measures and cases before the courts. Guyana is satisfied that it has been recently reviewed under the Inter-American Convention against Corruption by MESICIC and its report was adopted on March 14, 2024. The State party submitted its 2nd Self-Assessment in 2023 and is awaiting the UNCAC on site review. Guyana proudly subjects itself to these mechanisms and their review processes, and will continue to do so.  
11 The State party during the review process had provided numerous cases where action was taken and a number of persons have been charged including former government ministers.    
12 The State party responded to these allegations made during the review. Further the State party reported on the Natural Resources Fund Act and the Local Content Act and the legal framework for the management of oil revenue to Guyana. It also pointed out that it signed on to the EITI and has brought its reports u to 2021. 2022 report was due in December 2024. As well as currently under review by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (past of the Financial Action Task Force). The State part stated it was unaware of reports of acts of corruption in the oil sector .       
13 The State party stated during its review and in its submission of additional information that consultations were held with the meaningful participation of all affected communities members.   The State party is not aware of corruption in the awarding of public contracts in this sector. The Audit Office and the Public Procurement Commission, both constitutional bodies, have the authority to investigate and where necessary recommend to the Director of Public Prosecutions to prosecute.  
14 The State party repeatedly stated that the Constitution of Guyana is the supreme law and every person is entitled to the human rights enshrined. Any individual who alleges that their human rights have been violated can go to the Constitutional court to seek redress. It also made specific reference to Art 149 anti- discrimination clause which was applicable to all areas of society and that discrimination was prohibited on the grounds stated in the constitution.   Under non-discrimination- The issues outlined in sections (a) to (d) The State is not aware of any allegations made during the reporting period.   The State party particularly objects to section d which states “failure by the police to investigate…..murders” etc. This is not accurate as all murders in Guyana, regardless of the sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression of the victim, have been investigated or are currently under investigation.   With regards to amendments to article 149 to include “sexual orientation/sexual identity”, the State party stated this would be subject to review during the 2024 constitutional review process.   The Racial Hostility Act is an offence to willfully incite hate speech and incitement to racial hostility. A person convicted of an offence under the Act Racial Hostility Act  is, among other, disqualified for election as a member of the National Assembly, for membership of any local government authority, and several other offices. Further, Section 139E of the Representation of the People Act, Cap 1:03, enjoins political parties from taking any action which results or can result in racial or ethnic violence or hatred.  
15   The State party rejects that there is an existing ethnic “divide” and ethnic tensions. The State party provided detailed information on equitable access to government programmes, goods and services, housing, water, skills training such as BIT and GOAL, social protection benefits and services, etc., to ensure that “no one is left behind”. The state party also pointed to the creation of the constitutional rights commission, the Ethnic Relations Commission, was to address ethnic insecurities and to provide another layer of domestic remedy.The State party pointed out that its statues prevent racial hostility and incitement as referred to at para 14 herein especially by public officials and politicians. The state party denied any racial profiling by police unlike in other countries.The state party denied that there were reports of violence and discrimination against LGBTQI. This recommendation to bring in domestic anti-discrimination legislation is redundant and unnecessary as the Constitution prohibits discrimination as stated by the State party in para 14.  
16 The state party provided detailed information of women in Cabinet, parliament, judiciary, high administration and technical levels in the public service, in the medical profession, including increase in women in business, self-employment, farm owners and property owners, etc. The state party pointed to the overwhelming majority of women participating in various government training programmes, University, Teacher Training College.     The state is confused by the statement “The committee is concerned about the persistent wage gap, particularly among self-employed workers”. First of all this was never raised during the review and secondly self-employed persons set their own wages, salaries, benefits and allowances.   The issue of wage gap for self-employed persons was not raised during the review process and should be removed.
17 The State provided evidence of equality of women in leadership and decision making roles. The State had informed the Committee that in 2024, 39% of Parliamentarians in the National Assembly were women, and women further occupy key positions as Permanent Secretaries, Judges, Magistrates, Ministers of Government, Amerindian Village Leaders (Toshaos), entrepreneurs, etc.   The state party also pointed that any increase of the 1/3 females criteria for eligibility of parties to contest elections may be subject to the constitutional reform process 2024  
18 The State party provided detailed information on its programmes and support services as part of its efforts to reduce domestic and sexual violence to victims. It reported in detail on the strengthening of its reporting mechanisms with the creation of the Domestic Violence 914 Hotline in English and Spanish. This has allowed for increase in reporting of domestic violence cases which are referred to the Police. The state party also reported on the three shelters which are distributed in three regions. The State had reported that Child Advocacy Centres and the Family Care Center also provide shelters for vulnerable families.   The State wishes to remind the Committee that Guyana has a population of a little over 800,000. Therefore, the three shelters are not overcrowded and provide sufficient space for DV victims.
19 The State had pointed out during the review that the Sexual Offences Act makes provision for restitution for victims. In the additional information provided the state party informed the Committee that there is a draft Family Violence Bill and when passed would address new and emerging forms of violence.  The existing Sexual Offences Act is being amended to address identified weaknesses and strengthen the legal framework, curb sexual violence, and provide stricter penalties for offenders.    
20 The State party provided detailed information on abortion and its accessibility throughout the country at hospitals. Nothing was ever raised about “unsafe clandestine abortions.”   Detailed information was shared about breast cancer and interventions to ensure early detection and treatment to all women in particular poor, rural and indigenous peoples.   The State party explained extensively during the review that under the Ministry of Health, there is a unit dedicated to breast and cervical cancer. This well-resourced unit has five staff, of which four are doctors/specialists. The unit has received no reports of inadequate care, even as it proudly works with numerous local CSOs to implement projects and programmes related to prevention, detection and care.    The State stated on more than one occasion during the review that 12 new hospitals were scheduled to be constructed across the country including in interior areas, and services have and are being expanded in poor and remote areas.      
22 The State party reminds the Committee that it stated this matter will no doubt arise during the Constitutional Reform Process, as was explained countless times during the review. The State party also informed the committee that any individual who felt they were wrongfully sentenced or where new evidence came to light that they could return to the courts for review of their case.   .  
23 Our response to para 22 indicates our views reference this para    
24 The period referred to should be 2002 to 2008, rather than 2002 to 2006. The violent crimes which were perpetrated across the country did not end in 2006 but in 2008.   The state party is stunned by the assertion by the Committee that extra-judicial killings continue.    The state party provided information regarding reports of incidents of excessive use of force by law enforcement and that these have been taken seriously by the State party and police have been brought before the courts.  (eg. the killing of Quindon Bacchus)[1]   The state party also provided information on court ordered compensation for persons or their famiies regarding police overreach and abuse.to   The state party provided information on the training of police with regards to the use of their powers and human rights.   The Presidential Commission of Inquiry was a promise made by former President, David Granger, during his tenure. However, he failed to do so after announcing his intentions to have the COI conducted. It was also pointed out that the reason why the former President never appointed the commission s it would have implicated people within his own government and party.      
26 The State party repeatedly spoke of the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 and the facts about Guyana with the lowest deforestation rate in the world and as a zero emitter of carbon dioxide.   The State party provided information on the consultation process on the creation of the expanded and updated LCDS 2030 which included indigenous communities across the country as well as other national stakeholders and civil society organizations.   Furthermore the State party pointed out that the Multi-stakeholder Committee which oversight the LCDS 2030 comprises representatives of the National Toshoas Council and indigenous organizations including the APA.   The state party also reported on stakeholder and community meetings held by the EPA.    The State party is disheartened to see that the Committee did not take into consideration the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030 or considered the provisions of the strategy in the compilations of the recommendations. Had this been done, the recommendations under the “Environmental degradation by pollution and climate changesection would have been significantly more relevant, up-to-date, and factual.   The Guyana Geology and Mines Commission regulates and monitors the mining sector,   with the Guyana Forestry Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency protect the environment each with their own mandates.   The State Party also pointed out that the largest number of miners on Amerindian titled lands is Amerindians who are required to obey the Mining Act with regards to pollution etc.     The state party reported that it is a signatory to the Minamata Convention and measures were in place to reduce the use of mercury.   The State party notes with concern that the issue of “abnormal childbirths” as a result of was pollution and hazardous waste was not raised in the review process. Yet this is part of the concluding observations.   There are no epidemiological reports of “abnormal child births” in any of the health facilities across Guyana, especially in those which serve indigenous communities. Guyana’s epidemiological professionals would have already been alerted of this if this were true. This too is factually incorrect.   The State party may not be able to validate claims of fatigue and memory loss as these may not be reported to health officials, however, any claims about abnormal births are factually incorrect.    The State party referred to a World Bank loan of USD $20 M to strengthen the regulatory and technical framework of the Environmental Protection Agency which was 70% complete.   The State party takes this claim of abnormal child births seriously and encourages the Committee to share reports of all incidences of abnormal births caused by pollution, which the Committee may have solicited from its associates.    
28 The State party stated that there were no recent reports of torture and sexual violence among persons deprived of liberty.   The State party strongly objects to the use of the term “widespread” “about reports of widespread torture or ill-treatment of persons deprived of liberty, including of: (a) (b) . In the few instances which the state shared where such reports have been received, the cases were taken to the courts and the perpetrators were charged in accordance with the relevant laws.   The use of the term “Widespread” paints an intentionally false picture and the state party objects.   This is a serious charge and it is factually inaccurate to state that the “Police Commissioner blocks allegations of wrongdoing from reaching the Police Complaints Authority”.     As the state party informed the Committee of the process of making complaints about police misconduct, abuse, etc .,. Individuals bring complaints to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) and or the Office of Professional Responsibility/Guyana Police Force (GPF). These complaints are not made to the Commissioner of Police.   The State party emphasized that the office of the PCA is separate from the GPF, is not funded by the GPF and is covered by statute. It is located in a different geographic location and is accessible to the public. The methodology for reporting to the PCA involves individuals contacting the PCA on their own – it has nothing to do with the Commissioner of Police.    
29 The state party reminds the committee that with regards to recommendation (a) The Supreme Law of the Land – The Constitution provides protections against torture in Article 141 (protection from In human treatment). Any person who feels like this right has been infringed can approach the courts, especially the Constitutional Court.   As was reported during the review, the Constitutional Court handles matters expeditiously.
30 The State party reported on the Prison Visiting Committees which are governed by law and are comprised of civilians from surrounding communities of the prisons and civil society organizations. The state party is not aware of any reports nor has the Committee informed the State party of any reports received with regards to the independence, transparency and accountability of Prison Visiting Committees.   The State party calls on the Committee to submit any such reports against the Prison Visiting Committees which the Committee may have received. These Prison VIsiting Committees are covered by law, and should there be any real reports of lack of independence, transparency and accountability, these can be effectively remedied.  
31 The State provided detailed information on matters relating to recommendations (b) ( c) and (d).   The state party provided evidence that the pre trail detention numbers have declined to 13% over the last three years.    
32 The State party provided information from the PCA about nature and type of complaints and action taken.   The issue of arbitrary and unlawful arrests minors was not raised in the review process.   The State party objects to the use of the term “Widespread” in referencing arbitrary and unlawful arrests. This is not widespread, and there are no reports to support any such claim. While there may be instances of unlawful arrest – it is NOT widespread or rampant, contrary to the Committee’s insinuations.   The state party reported that detainees and convicted prisoners are keep separate and minors are not held in adult prisons.    
33 (c) there are already effective remedies in place in statutes and these have been and are used by individuals .    
34 Persons are only tried as adults at the age of 18. Not 16 and 17, as the Committee is suggesting in this paragraph. It is totally incorrect to say that juveniles between 16 to 18 are excluded from the juvenile justice system   The State party provided information that efforts are made regarding detention as a last resort as provided for in the Juvenile Justice Act .   The best interest of the child is enshrined in the constitution. Article 38B states that “the best interest of the child shall be the primary consideration in all judicial proceedings and decisions and in all matters concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, administrative authorities of legislative bodies”.  
36 The State Party reported extensively on the investigations conducted by the Ministry of Labour, and by the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission and the Guyana Forestry Commission. Over 2000 inspections were conducted in 2023 by the Ministry of Labour and no cases of child labour were recorded.   The state provided information regarding child labour and the fact that Guyana has achieved a universal primary education, the legal age of employment and the laws prevent children from doing night work or hazardous work.   There is no “PREVALENCE” of child labour. The use of the term “prevalence” suggests that this is a very common phenomenon – the state party objects to this; child labour is not prevalent.   The issue of birth certificates and citizenship was raised with regards to foreign born children of Guyanese parents.    
38 It is regrettable that all the efforts of Guyana regarding migrants from Venezuela appear to have gone unnoticed.   The state party responded to the issue raised by the Committee regarding the conferral of nationality. The constitution provides for children born to either a Guyanese mother or father to be automatically granted Guyanese citizenship. Those persons would therefore only have to go through the relevant process to submit their overseas birth certificates with their mother or father’s Guyanese birth certificate to obtain a Guyanese birth certificate from the General Register Office. This is the document that makes them Guyanese.   The state party informed the committee that its laws do not allow refoulement.    
40 The State party went to great efforts to explain how the Judicial Service Commission is appointed. The Committee has deliberately misconstrued its interpretation of the appointment of the JSC which is executed by the President. This appointment is ceremonial whereas the actual selection of the members of the Judicial Service Commission is rooted in a broad-based consultative process at numerous levels of society including through parliamentary processes and the engagement of civil society actors within the legal sphere.   The state party went to pains to explain how the Judicial Service Commission recommends  and how Judges are appointed, including giving an example of if a President disagrees with a nominee by the JSC what takes place. Once the JSC reviews the President’s written concerns and it still of the view that that the said Judge be appointed, it advises the President again and he has no choice but to appoint in accordance with the constitution.  Further, the State party is not aware of any appointments of “acting judges”. This is simply not a practice of the State party, nor was it raised in the review process.   While the Chancellor and Chief Justice may be acting in those positions, their substantive appointment as judges in the Supreme Court of Guyana is not temporary nor are they to be considered “acting” judges. They are fully appointed judges, executing the duties of the Chancellor and Chief Justice.   The confirmation of the appointments of the Chancellor and Chief Justice may also be reviewed under the constitutional reform process.   There is no limited access to legal aid services for persons from hinterland regions. The State party went to great pains to explain how the Government supports the Legal Aid Clinic, the Linden Legal Aid Clinic and the Legal Pro-Bono 500 initiative.   The state party provided information on increase in the government’s annual budgetary subvention to the Legal Aid Clinic and the Linden Aid Clinic. Both of which are independent of the government.    
42 The state party provided information on the number of defamation cases including where government officials were sued by opposition members and where opposition members sued media houses. It was pointed out that the National Broadcasting Authority is governed by statute and the 5 members including one from the majority opposition parliamentary party and media experts who do not own media houses.    
44 The state party pointed out that the “dual ethno-political polarization” is factually incorrect. In 2020, nine (9) different parties with diverse compositions contested the general and regional elections.   The composition of GECOM does not exclude indigenous peoples. This is a departure from the reality that any person, regardless of race, may be appointed to the GECOM.   The state party answered the issue of persons with disabilities reference the amended Representation of the People’s Act. In fact the State party informed the Committee of the amendments to the electoral laws after a year of consultation to remove any ambiguities in law and to ensure there would not be another 2020 general and regional elections where the most senior members of the GECOM conspired with the former government to steal the elections. The elections were observed, as stated by the state party in its 2021 report and again in the review process, by the EU, the Commonwealth, the OAS, the CARICOM and the Carter Centre.   The electoral system d is not “exacerbating the existing dual ethno-political polarisation” nor is it contributing to political marginalisation of any ethinc minorities. Guyana is a country made up of minorities, not one group has 50% of the population, and each individual has the right to their own political views and opinions, including indigenous peoples. They can belong to any political party they wish. There is no indigenous people’s party  
46 The State party reminds the Committee that it had provided extensive information on the Amerindian Act as the only governance model of indigenous rights and land rights.   In the 2021 report, the initial presentation by Guyana and in the state party review from March 18-20, 2024 and additional information of March 22, 2024, extensive information was given on titling of indigenous lands and provision of services by government in their communities and revenue from Guyana’s carbon markets.   The state party also explained d the role and functions of the National Toshoas Council as the legitimate elected representative body of all indigenous communities of Guyana. The state party  also provided information on the review process being conducted for the revision of the Amerindian Act. The state party provided information demonstrating that Free Prior and Informed Consent has been the policy of this government and it is implemented.   The state party emphasizes as it did during the review that indigenous communities can mine on their titled land in accordance with the Amerindian Act and the Mining Act.   Only a few communities have reported such issues. This is not widespread as the Committee is making it out to appear. In a country with over 240 Indigenous communities, the reports of a few villages seem to have clouded the overall progress made in advancing and protecting the rights of Guyana’s indigenous peoples.    

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