Comments by Hon. Moses Nagamootoo, Prime Minister of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana (with responsibility for Governance and Public Information)
Except for the inherited problem of over-crowding of prisons, the US Country Report did not indicate any serious human rights violations in Guyana for the period under review.
For me, it is a balanced report, that recognises Guyana as an open and free country, that has distanced itself, since 2015, from blatant human rights violations including extra-judicial killings and wanton official corruption.
More importantly, the Report characterises Guyana as a “multi-party democracy” and declares that the APNU+AFC government came to office after “free, fair and credible” elections.
That would rubbish the claims by the opposition PPP that those elections had been rigged.
The Report stated that the Guyana Government generally respected judicial independence and impartiality, though there continued to be delays, trials are fair.
No mention was made of consultation between the Executive and the Judiciary to deal with the backlog of cases, and the subsequent appointment of temporary magistrates and puisne judges to address the issue.
There have been no reports of political detainees or prisoners, and government does not interfere in the privacy or correspondence of citizens, or with family and their home.
In what appeared to be a stark departure from pre-2015 practices, the Coalition Government has a clean record for respect for the press and the right to freedom of expression.
“The independent media were active and at times expressed a wide variety of views without restriction,” the Report acknowledged.
In addition, the Coalition respected academic freedom and freedom of citizens to assembly and protest.
The US Country Report recognised the holding of local government elections in 2016, and mentioned that those elections were last held in 1994, which would be a serious indictment of the former PPP administration.
That administration had been cited in previous reports for “pervasive corruption” and under it, Guyana slumped to the lowest level of the world corruption perception index.
No wonder then that the current Report alluded that there remained that widespread public perception, though recognising that the new government has effectively implemented criminal laws against corrupt practices.
Our Government would take a deep look at the Report though as a first reaction, it does appear that Guyana has stepped forward into the sunlight of better human right practices, since elections were last held in 2015.
The full report can be read here: https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/index.htm?year=2017&dlid=277337#wrapper