Country Report on Guyana Human Rights Practices

In prison abuse on April 2, 2008 at 8:48 am

According to the US Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2007, in Guyana “prison and jail conditions were poor, particularly in police holding cells. There were 2,180 prisoners in five facilities. More than half of these were in Georgetown’s Camp Street Prison, which was designed to hold 500 inmates but held approximately 1,140 during the year. Most of the inmates were pretrial detainees.

Conditions in the country’s four smaller prisons generally were adequate. Some prison officers received basic medical training, but no doctor regularly visited any of the prisons. All newly hired prison guards received human rights training from the Guyana Human Rights Association, which did not consider mistreatment of prisoners a problem in the prison system.

Although sanitary and medical conditions in police holding facilities varied, overall these conditions were worse than those in the prisons. Some jails were bare, overcrowded, and damp. Few had beds, washbasins, furniture, or utensils. Meals normally were inadequate; friends and relatives routinely had to bring detainees food and water. Although precinct jails were intended to serve only as pretrial holding areas, some suspects were detained there as long as two years, awaiting judicial action on their cases.

Juvenile offenders ages 16 and older were held with the adult prison population. Juvenile offenders ages 15 and younger were held in the NOC, which offered primary education, vocational training, and basic medical care. Problems at the NOC included lax security and understaffing. There were complaints that juvenile runaways, or those out of their guardians’ care, were placed with juveniles who had committed crimes, with the result that some petty offenders became involved in more serious criminal activity.

Since there were no facilities in Georgetown to hold female offenders ages 16 and over, women awaiting trial were held in the same facilities as men. The Prison Authority reported that there were 105 female inmates in the women’s prison located in New Amsterdam. Due to inadequate facilities, juvenile female pretrial detainees were sometimes held with adult female pretrial detainees.

The Prison Authority offered rehabilitation programs focused on vocational training and education; however, such programs did not adequately address the needs of prisoners with substance-abuse problems.”


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