state of civil and political rights: Free
constitution: 6 October 1980
legal system: based on English system, with references to Roman-Dutch law
legislative system: unicameral National Assembly
judicial system: Supreme Court of Judicature with right of final appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice
religion: 50% Christian, 28% Hindu, 7% Muslim, other
death row: 23 as of 31 December 2015, Government
year of last executions: 0-8-1997
death sentences: 2
international treaties on human rights and the death penalty:
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1st Optional Protocol to the Covenant
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Statute of the International Criminal Court (which excludes the death penalty)
Murder and treason are capital crimes.
In 2010, Guyana’s Parliament voted to partially abolish the mandatory death penalty for people convicted of
However, the death penalty remains mandatory for certain categories of murder that include the killing of a law
enforcement official while on duty, prison officers, members of the judiciary
and legal officers, witnesses, as well as jurors, while in the execution of
On 30 December 2015, the parliament approved legislation that provides for the mandatory death penalty for acts of
terrorism resulting in death.
Guyana, which is a member State of
the Commonwealth, since 1970 “severed its ties” with the Judicial Committee of
the London-based Privy Council. In 2001, Guyana was one of eleven States to
ratify an agreement to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to
replace the Privy Council as the final court of appeal in the region. The
Caribbean Court of Justice was inaugurated in Trinidad on 16 April 2005, and
Guyana is one of the States that have already decided to switch to its
The last execution was actually a
double-hanging in August 1997, when Mike Archer and Peter Adams were put to
death for a fatal robbery attempt.
In 2015, no death sentence was
handed down and 23 people were on death row at the end of the year, according
to the government.
The War on Terror
On 30 December 2015, Guyana's
parliament approved anti-terrorism legislation that provides for the mandatory
death penalty for acts of terrorism resulting in death and would allow
rendition of suspects to other countries.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan
told skeptical opposition lawmakers that the legislation was necessary to make
sure the nation does not become a haven for terrorists. “Draconian times
require Draconian measures,” Ramjattan said during debate.
The ruling party used its one-seat majority
to pass the bills, while all members of the opposition abstained, stating that
the provisions allowing the death penalty for terrorism offenses would violate
Ramjattan brushed aside calls for
removing the death penalty clauses, saying the option of capital punishment
would “have that preventative, dissuasive effect” on potential offenders.
On 28 January 2015, Guyana was reviewed under the Universal Periodic Review of the UN
Human Rights Council. Regarding the abolition of the death penalty or the
establishment of a moratorium raised by many delegations, the country’s
delegation affirmed that, whilst having not reached the point of abolishing the
death penalty, discussions were continuing. Guyana accepted the recommendations
to consider taking all necessary steps to introduce a de jure moratorium on
capital executions and continue advancing towards the abolition of the death
On 19 December 2016, Guyana voted again against the UNGA Resolution for a universal moratorium on