Cabinet Decides on Changes to Police Identification and Health Epidemiological Terminology

Despite being in government from 1966 to 1992 and again from 2015 to 2020, the People’s National Congress and the PNCR-led APNU+AFC Coalition, along with their advocate Mr. Nigel Hughes, failed to address the issue of outdated Police ethnic identification categories, such as “negro,” which was inherited from British colonial times. These terms, while not enshrined in law, have been used as an identification tool since the colonial era and after independence.

The arrest of Kidacke Amsterdam on cybercrime charges prompted Mr. Hughes and the PNCRled Coalition to suddenly raise the issue of ethnic identification. Their long period of somnambulism was finally over, but this newfound urgency did not extend to condemning the caller who demanded the beheading of government leaders and displaying their heads on staves by the seawall—an image reminiscent of the barbaric practices of the colonial rulers.

Recognizing that many Guyanese find the terms “negro” and “east Indian” offensive, the Cabinet decided on June 6, 2024, that the terms used by the Guyana Police Force including Immigration, and the health sector as forms of identification and epidemiological references to ethnic descriptions will now read as follows: 

  • Guyanese of African descent
  • Guyanese of Indian descent
  • Guyanese Amerindian
  • Guyanese of mixed ancestry
  • Guyanese of Portuguese descent
  • Guyanese of Chinese descent

The relevant entities are instructed to implement the Cabinet’s decision and update their operational manuals and rules accordingly.