CEDAW CG UY Q 7 8 Add 1 by S7iOuiRJ

VIEWS: 6 PAGES: 32

									 The Government of Guyana’s Response To the List of Issues and
  Questions with Regard to the Consideration of the Combined 7th
 and 8th Periodic Report of Guyana(CEDAW/C/GUY/Q/7.8), May
                             23, 2012



Constitutional, legislative and institutional framework

  1. The report indicates that in the interpretation of the fundamental rights
     provisions, the executive, legislature, judiciary and other organs and
     agencies of the Government shall pay due regard to international law,
     conventions, covenants and charters bearing on human rights. Please
     provide information on cases in which the Convention has been invoked
     or referred to in national courts, as well as the outcome of such cases.

        At present, there have been no cases in which the Convention has been
        invoked or referred to in national courts.

        Notwithstanding this absence, the Government of Guyana, through its
        executive, legislative, judicial and other organs and agencies, reaffirms
        its commitment to paying due regard to international law, conventions,
        covenants and charters bearing on human rights.

        Guyana’s history has been marked with political violence and ethnic
        tensions and insecurities. In an effort to address these and other
        problems, Guyana’s revised 2003 Constitution made radical changes to
        the human rights and fundamental freedoms sections, which now
        guarantee everyone the basic customary human rights that are enshrined
        in international human rights instruments such as ICCPR, CROC,
        CEDAW, CERD, and CAT to which Guyana has acceded, and, the Inter-
        American Convention on Human Rights.




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Guyana is aware that the full realization of universal respect for and
observance of human rights and freedoms is an ongoing, continuous
process, and to this end, Guyana stands committed to advance the
interdependency and indivisibility of all human rights and has undertaken
steps to adopt policies to enhance the protection and promotion of all
human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The standards, decisions and recommendations of such human rights
systems have had a meaningful and positive impact on the furtherance of
respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms
within the structure and workings of the judicial branch at both the local
and national levels.

Guyana’s measures to address such issues have undoubtedly been shaped
by CEDAW as well as other Conventions to which Guyana has acceded.

Guyana reiterates information that was provided in its State Party report
to the UNHRC UPR process in May and September, 2010.

     i. Article 154(A)(1) of the Guyana Constitution, states that “every
        person, as contemplated by the respective international treaties
        set out in the Fourth Schedule to which Guyana has acceded is
        entitled to the human rights enshrined in the said international
        treaties, and such rights shall be respected and upheld by the
        executive, legislature, judiciary and all organs and agencies of
        Government and, where applicable by them, by all natural and
        legal persons and shall be enforceable in the manner hereinafter
        prescribed”. This Schedule includes CEDAW.

    ii. Article 39(2) bestows interpretive powers on such branches as to
        fundamental rights provisions which must pay due regard to
        international law, conventions, covenants and charters bearing on
        human rights, including, but not limited to CEDAW, a
        convention to which Guyana has acceded.


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 iii. Parliament, with the aid of the expanded Committee System, has
      enacted a series of statutes that specifically promote and protect
      human rights of individuals as well as group rights of vulnerable
      persons, including women, children, Amerindian (indigenous)
      peoples, elderly and differently-abled. These statutes are in line
      with the principles and teachings of CEDAW and other
      international conventions to which Guyana has acceded.

 iv. Guyana’s Judicial Service Commission and the Rules Committee
     of the High Court may consider whether to implement standards
     and recommendations of international conventions to which
     Guyana has acceded.

 v. The Guyana Constitution provides for the establishment of 5
    constitutional rights commissions- the Women and Gender
    Equality Commission, the Rights of the Child Commission,
    Indigenous Peoples Commission, the Ethnic Relations
    Commission which are appointed through a consensual
    parliamentary mechanism after consulting and agreeing on a list
    of civil society bodies.

 vi. The Human Rights Commission is comprised of the Chairpersons
     of the 4 above-mentioned Commissions and the chair is selected
     and appointed by the President from 6 names given to him by the
     Leader of the Opposition. This Commission acts as the secretariat
     for the 4 other commissions.

vii. Of the abovementioned Commissions, the Women and Gender
     Equality Commission, the Rights of the Child Commission and
     the Indigenous Peoples Commission were established and are
     functioning.

viii. The Commissioners of the Ethnic Relations Commission despite
      many efforts in the 9th Parliament (2006 September – 2011
      September) were not appointed due to the inability of the
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             National Assembly to reach agreement and attain the required
             two-thirds majority. Furthermore, the budgetary allocation for the
             Commission in the 2012 Budget was cut to 0 by the opposition
             which has a majority of one seat in the 10 th Parliament. The
             Commission will therefore have to be dismantled.

         ix. The former President and the present President have repeatedly
             and formally and informally approached the former Leader of the
             Opposition and the present Leader of the Opposition between
             2009 to the present for the submission of the six (6) names for
             selection to chairman of the Human Rights Commission in
             accordance with the Constitution with no success.

          x. The Women and Gender Equality Commission promotes national
             recognition and acceptance that women’s rights are human rights
             as well as respect for gender equality, principles which were
             influenced by CEDAW.

         xi. The Governance Unit in the Office of the President has, as one of
             its responsibilities, to monitor Guyana’s implementation of its
             treaty obligations and has issued recommendations to the
             Executive in this regard.

        xii. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Permanent Mission
             in Washington, will bring to Guyana’s attention, standards and
             provisional recommendations issued by the human rights systems
             to which Guyana is a member.


2. The report refers to budgetary resources to construct a Family Court,
   which was expected to be operational by the last quarter of 2010. Please
   provide updated information on the current status of the Family Court.

      The construction of the building to house the Family Law Court has
      been completed. Regrettably, the Court is still not operational. This
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     cannot take place until there are Family Court Rules and Judges are
     appointed by the Judicial Service Commission.

     Despite many efforts by the government, including technical support of
     two consultancies, the Rules Committee of the High Court has not
     completed the Family Court Rules which must be submitted for approval
     by the National Assembly.

     As soon as these Rules have been submitted by the Chancellor of the
     Judiciary, who is also chairperson of the Rules Committee of the High
     Court, and they are brought into operation, on a date to be fixed by
     practice direction issued by the Chancellor, the Family Law Court will be
     fully operational.

     The Government of Guyana reasonably anticipates that the Family Law
     Court will be fully operational by the 4th quarter of 2012.


3. The report refers to the Prevention of Crimes Act No. 11 of 2008, which
   allows for the mandatory supervision of persons convicted of domestic
   violence, molestation, rape, sexual exploitation, pornography, incest,
   prostitution and kidnapping. Please provide clear information on the
   provisions of this Act, whether the Act has been implemented in
   practice, and its impact on prevention of violence against women.

     A copy of the 2008 amendment to the Chapter 9:01, Prevention of
     Crimes Act was submitted with our State Party Report in 2010. However,
     Guyana has re-submitted a copy for the Working Group’s information.

     The chief principle in this Act is that it provides for mandatory
     supervision of persons convicted of scheduled offenses. This entails
     reporting to the nearest police station/precinct to their place of abode on a
     regular basis.



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Part 1 of the Schedule provides for mandatory supervision of 3 years
after the offender has completed his/her sentence for any of the listed
offences- armed robberies, domestic violence, hijacking, offences
involving use of firearms and explosives, and piracy.

Part 11 Offences under any law involving any of the acts mentioned
below affecting a child as a victim requires mandatory supervision for
life for molestation, rape, sexual exploitation, pornography, incest and
kidnapping. In the latter cases the offender is classified as a paedophile
and any offence under Part 11 is a “paedophile offence”

This amendment provides some comfort for the victims of such crimes as
the offenders will have to report on a regular basis to the police precinct
nearest to where they reside. They would also have to report any changes
in their place of abode and be assigned to another police station nearest to
their new address.

Furthermore with regard to the offences under Part 11 , this reflects the
society’s abhorrence of such acts against children and provides life
supervision for paedophiles under the same arrangement of reporting at
designated times to the nearest police precinct to where they reside and
any change of abode must be treated as stated above.
.
Coupled with this amendment, a new Sexual Offences Act 2010 and six
pieces of legislation relating to children (2009-2011) were enacted, which
provide the statutory framework that would guide implementation of Part
1 and 11. Amendments to the Evidence Act (No. 19 of 2008) and the
Criminal Procedures Act (No. 17 of 2008) provide for audio-visual links
in the court room to protect victims, especially children, and allow for
paper committals.

Under the new laws, there are a number of cases being tried before the
courts.



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National Machinery for the advancement of women
4. According to the report, the Women and Gender Equality
Commission has been established in 2009 and was expected to be fully
operational by mid-2010. Please provide information on the
Commission’s mandate, human and financial resources, impact on
women empowerment and influence on policy making. Please provide
information on whether a National Action Plan on Gender Equality has
been developed.

a. The Women and Gender Equality Commission is one of the 5 constitutional
rights bodies which became fully operational in 2010 and consists of 16 members,
chosen from various bodies including the Private Sector, the ten (10) Regional
Affairs Committees, the Women’s Affairs Bureau (WAB), the Labour Movement,
women’s and cultural/ethnic non-governmental bodies. Noteworthy is that the
Commission is comprised of 15 women and one male. Both the chair and deputy
chair who are elected by the members of the commission are also female.

These members were appointed through consultation with civil society bodies
agreed to by a parliamentary consensual mechanism. The President appoints the
members whose names are provided by the National Assembly; he has no
appointee of his own.

This Commission’s mandate in accordance with Article 212 Q of the Guyana
Constitution, is to promote “national recognition and acceptance that women’s
rights are human rights, respect for gender equality and protection, development
and attainment of gender equality.”

The Commission’s functions are outlined in Article 212 R and include:

      Recommending and implementing legislation and formulating policies that
       seek to enhance and protect the status of women.
      Initiate research and create suitable database on women and gender issues,
       particularly as it relates to reproductive health, domestic violence and socio-
       economic and political status.



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       Promote consultation and co-operation with women organisations in relation
        to decision-making that will effect changes on the lives of women and
       Recommend training and assistance relevant to the improvement of women
        and girls, while at the same time facilitating women’s participation in
        decision-making.

The Commission received budgetary allocations in the annual national budget
since its establishment (2010, 2011 and 2012) totaling over $60M GY ( equivalent
to USD $300,000) to carry out its mandate and maintain a functional office with
staff and other resources.

As all of the other rights commissions, the Women and Gender Equality
Commission must submit annual reports to the National Assembly. In July 2011,
the Commission submitted its first report for the period 2010. A copy of its report
is attached which captures the work it has been doing since its establishment. It has
also benefitted from additional financial and technical support to hold
consultations and workshops from the USAID.

In the latter half of 2011, the Commission held a workshop to discuss women’s
access to justice which was attended by 150 women from across the country
representing religious and women’s organizations as well as the Guyana Bar
Association and the Guyana Women’s Lawyers Association.

b. The Government of Guyana developed a National Policy Paper on Women in
2006. This policy document is supported by the 2007 consultation paper called
“Stamp It Out” which focuses on strengthening protection against sexual violence
and reforming the laws on sexual offences.1 The GoG National Policy on Domestic
Violence “Break the Cycle Take Control” was launched after a national
consultative process on June 11, 2008 and is referred to in more detail in Guyana’s
response to Question # 6.




1
 This document became the basis for consultation across the country on law reform of the antiquated sexual
offences laws and brought in a new Sexual offences bill. This was taken to the National Assembly in 2009 and sent
to Special Select Parliamentary Committee which made further changes and it was approved by the National
Assembly in 2010 and enacted on May 24 , 2010 .

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The National Policy Paper on Women (2006)2reflects Government's firm
commitment to:

• place the issue of gender on the national agenda, informing and educating the
public and all its institutions about the central importance of taking gender into
account in all areas of national life;

• improve government's institutional capacity to develop, implement and evaluate
programmes and projects from the vantage point of their impact on women;

• foster the inclusion of women in all areas of decision-making at both the national
and local levels, including the communities of the interior with their scattered
populations;

• network with non-governmental organizations which focus on women's issues;

• review and monitor current legislation to ensure that international human rights
law influences the formulation of gender sensitive legislation;

• ensure the enactment of domestic legislation which reflects the recognition of
women's rights as human rights;

• utilize all resources - human and technical, with cooperation from international
agencies including but not exclusively, the United Nations and its specialized
agencies, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Organization of
American States and the Commonwealth; and substantially improve the economic
and social position and situation of women in Guyana.


Stereotypes and harmful practices
5. The report acknowledges the existence of a cultural lag in terms of
attitudes, prejudices, cultural and religious traditions and ignorance.
Please provide information on measures taken to change stereotypical

2
    A copy has been attached with this submission

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attitudes about the roles and responsibilities of women and men,
including through public awareness-rising and educational campaigns
directed at both women and men and at the media.

The most important instrument with regard to women’s rights is the revised 2003
Guyana Constitution which is the supreme law of the land. Nothing in law can be
inconsistent with the constitution.

The Constitution is bolstered by statutes that:

i) prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender in labour laws;

ii) provide for an eligibility criteria requiring one –third female candidates on the
list of each political party wishing to contest national and regional elections; and
administrative measures, policies and programmes that

      a) uphold public service rules as regards hiring, promotion etc., on basis of
      merit and non-discrimination, as well as,

      b) further the advancement of women, especially poor and vulnerable
      women, in relation to access to health, housing, education, skills training and
      tertiary education.

The National Policy on Women reiterates the constitutional provisions and uses
these as its guiding principles to address the issue of a cultural lag. These require
that
    women's rights include equitable access in the economic, social, cultural,
      political spheres and the right to reproductive health.
    all forms of discrimination against women from the society are
      unacceptable, and must be eradicated.
    women have a right to live and grow as full and equal human beings, who
      have value both as persons in themselves and as mothers, workers,
      organizers and community managers: Furthermore, equality between women
      and men must begin in the home, and that household democracy and the

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      sharing of parenting and domestic responsibilities must therefore be adopted
      and practiced.
     children are not solely a family responsibility; their well-being is also a
      social and community responsibility.

The sensitization of women and men as equals in society has been on-going for
decades by several governments and women’s organizations, and certainly, society
has over time recognized women’s rights.

The struggle to reduce poverty by an aggressive poverty reduction strategy with
programmes targeting the poor and vulnerable- women, children, Amerindian
peoples, the elderly and differently-abled, have had some successes.

The Millennium Development Goals Guyana Progress Report 2011 published in
September 2011, shows what progress Guyana has made in a number of these
Goals --including having almost achieved universal primary school enrollment
(95%) and completion ( 90%)--- and identified gaps and challenges still to be
overcome in this and other areas. 3 In fact, the enrollment of girls is equal to boys
at the primary level and girls have a higher percentage of completing their
secondary education. Females dominate the post- secondary skills programmes at
the diploma and degree levels.

Guyana’s State Party 2010 to CEDAW and its State Party Report to the UNHRC
UPR process in May 2010 illustrate improvements in the representation of women
in the political sphere and high offices in the judiciary and public service.

In fact, Guyana is proud that it ranks 25th in the world with 31.3% female
Parliamentarians by the International Parliamentary Union in its March 31, 2012
report.

However, despite these gains, Guyana recognizes that prejudices still persist in
various spheres of life particularly at the level of the family and extended family.
3
 A copy is appended to this response, however, this and previous MDG Progress Reports can be found
at www.finance.gov.gy . This site also provides access to annual budget documents and policy
documents.

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Thus, there are on-going interventions and programmes to sensitize women as to
their rights as well as providing access to a variety of services and facilities to help
them advance their political, economic and social well-being and equality in their
homes and society.

Women’s non-governmental organizations and the Ministry of Labour, Human
Services and Social Security supported by government funding and/or grant
support from UN bodies and/or other multilateral and developmental agencies,
hold workshops, round tables, televisions and radio programmes to promote
women’s rights and to address prejudice and cultural traditions which hold back
women from reaching their true potential. For instance and most recently, for
International Women’s Day March 8th 2011, a series of television programmes
were developed which showed Guyanese women in business, education, health,
politics and the challenges they face.

The main challenges that affect the advancement of women are reducing poverty,
domestic and sexual violence and the high percentage of female headed
households.

To intensify the campaign to address the domestic and sexual violence, in October
2010, President Jagdeo initiated a special partnership with the Faith-based
organizations amongst the Guyanese diaspora in New York, USA with the Faith-
based bodies in Guyana on preventing and reducing domestic and sexual violence
in Guyana. This partnership led to the design of a special training programmme in
five (5) of the Administrative Regions involving 500 religious community activists
and leaders. Thus, for the first time Faith-based4 organizations in a well organized
manner formally joined the campaign to reduce domestic and sexual violence. The
involvement of the Faith-based organizations has added to the on-going outreach
programmes at the national, regional, community levels and media activities.


The Women's Affairs Bureau5 of the Ministry of Labour, Human Services

4
  As stated in Guyana’s State Party report Guyana is not only a multi-ethnic but also a multi-religious
society with Christian, Hindu, Muslim , Rastafarian, B’ahais, and traditional non- mainstream faiths.
5
  This body registers and coordinates between and on behalf of the women’s organizations in Guyana.

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and Social Security has initiated a series of planned sessions on Gender
Awareness within Ministries and Corporations in 2011 and 2012. These
sessions which are held under the theme "Promoting Gender Equality" to
improve the capacity of government officials to mainstream gender and
gender issues into policies and programmes for the respective Ministries and
State agencies. The main objective is to work towards the elimination of all
forms of discrimination against women, to promote development of their full
potential, and to ensure their integration in the national development of the
country.
In 2011, the Ministry of Human Services hosted an Exposition entitled
“Feminition” which was conceived as another intervention in the
empowerment of women. The goal of this initiative was to change
stereotypical attitudes about women and to recognise, highlight and promote
skills, talent, capacities and capabilities of Guyanese women. This
Exposition was also intended to inspire women and men through the women
who exhibited what they were capable of doing, and, to encourage other
women to access available services and facilities so that they also could
advance their place in society as equals, and to provide opportunities for
networking among groups and services.
With regard to poverty reduction and single parent headed households, the
government initiated a number of programmes such as the Single Parent
Assistance Programme (2009), the Women of Worth Micro-credit Scheme
(June 2010), universal uniform allowance for all children enrolled in
government school system from nursery to secondary, public assistance and
a fund for those in exceptionally difficult circumstances, access to
government low income housing and low interest loans for housing.
The enactment of the Custody, Care, Guardianship, and Maintenance Act
2011 will also add legal clout to address problem of absent and defaulting
fathers.


Violence against women:



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6. The Report refers to the creation of the National Stakeholders Forum,
which has been dedicated to prevention of crime and violence including
domestic and sexual violence against women and children. Please provide
information on the activity of this Forum, in general, and its consultations, in
particular, and their impact on the process of elimination of violence against
women.

Guyana stated in its State Party Report 2010 that “One of most significant
innovative features of this inclusive governance model in this reporting period, is
the creation of the National Stakeholders Forum, an initiative of the President in
2008, which includes the parliamentary political parties, all the religious leaders of
the Christian, Hindu and Muslim bodies and the Inter-Faith Religious
Organization(IRO), labour movement, business, women and Amerindian
organizations representing approximately 400,000 people. Of the 13 consultations
held between 2008- 2010, five (5) have been dedicated to crime and violence and
one dedicated to domestic and sexual violence against women and children.”

Guyana wishes to clarify that this Forum, although its genesis was the violent
crime wave of that period, was not created to address only crime and violence but
any issue of national importance and a forum to seek consensus and ownership by
the political and civil society stakeholders in addressing these issues.

The National Stakeholders Forum in November 2008 was dedicated to addressing
the alarming level and prevalence of domestic violence in Guyana. The aim of this
Forum was to bring together various stakeholders that were integrally involved in
the fight to eradicate domestic violence, including religious organizations, NGOs,
private sector, law enforcement agencies and other relevant agencies and
organizations. The purpose was to have all major stakeholders understand the
extent of domestic violence within society including number of women murdered
by their partners and to agree on a number of interventions by stakeholders in the
eradication of domestic violence.

Since the convening of the National Stakeholders Forum, there has been an
enhanced nationally united and renewed approach towards the eradication of
domestic violence through heightened information, education and provision of
support and assistance to victims of domestic violence including stakeholders’

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organizations playing a more pro-active role amongst their constituencies. This
also led to more training and sensitization programmes for civilian law
enforcement and more robust media coverage of the cases before the courts.

Following the National Stakeholders Forum, at the initiative of His Excellency
President Jagdeo, the Government and religious leaders both in Guyana and in the
diaspora ( see answer to Question #5) worked on a partnership to address domestic
violence and protect victims in September 2010. The aim was to establish a
strategic approach where faith based organizations can work jointly with the
Government to eradicate domestic violence.

In October 2010, 500 religious activists and leaders from 5 of the 10 administrative
regions underwent training on how to identify and address domestic and sexual
violence in their communities and among their membership.

A joint communiqué was signed at the conclusion of the training signalling the
signatories’ commitment to taking a zero tolerance approach towards domestic
violence and pledging to collaborate with the Ministry of Human Services and
Social Security and law enforcement agencies to ensure that the domestic violence
and the phenomenon of domestic violence are eradicated.6

In May 2011, Christian youth from the Guyana Congregational Union and the
Guyana Presbyterian Church convened a nationwide youth retreat attracting youths
from 42 churches. The retreat focused on informing youth through workshops,
discussions and bible studies on domestic violence in relationships and how
persons can make choices to stop violence.7

It is envisioned that the Government will continue engaging relevant stakeholders
through consultations and stakeholders’ forums on steps forward to continue
Guyana’s fight to eliminate domestic violence.

As stated in response to Question # 5, the Ministry of Human Services and Social
Security in collaboration with UNIFEM and a local Non-Government

6
  For detailed information please see:
http://webapps01.un.org/vawdatabase/searchDetail.action?measureId=49850&baseHREF=country&bas
eHREFId=598
7
  More information can be found at: http://www.cwmission.org/features/ending-guyanas-legacy-of-
domestic-violence

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Organization, Help and Shelter, launched the National Policy on Domestic
Violence (2008-2013) under the theme ‘Break the Cycle Take Control’ in 2008.
The policy serves as a guide to the Government’s future interventions and
programmes in its efforts to eradicate domestic violence.

Arising out of this policy, a Domestic Violence Unit was established within the
Ministry of Human Services and Social Security. The key focus of the Unit is to
ensure the implementation of the National Domestic Violence Policy and serves as
a conduit of information and guidance to the various government sectors involved
on how to effectively aid in the eradication of domestic violence. A National
Domestic Violence Oversight Committee was established comprising of senior
members of government ministries and agencies and non-governmental
organizations which have a role to play in the eradication of domestic violence.
The Committee was tasked with over-viewing the policy and meets once monthly
to discuss the progress of implementation of the Policy. This process is
continuing.8

Furthermore, under the GoG/IDB Citizen Security Programme, newly renovated
police stations have been equipped with separate victim- friendly facilities with
private rooms and two-way mirrors for reporting crimes of domestic and sexual
violence and identifying the perpetrators. Thus, victims are offered an environment
to confidentially report offences without fear of reprisal or ostracism.9

The GoG continues to financially support the safe home for battered women and
children run by an NGO, as well children’s homes where children who are victims
of domestic and sexual violence can be taken for safety whilst under the
supervision of the Child Care Protection Agency.

The GoG has also continued, since submitting its report in 2010, to annually
providing budgetary support to the Guyana Legal Aid Clinic in order to ensure that
women, in particular those in the rural areas, have access to legal services.

8
    A copy of the Policy can be found at: http://www.hands.org.gy/files/dv_policy_april.pdf.

9
 In 2009, the Guyana Police Force publicly stated that there were 2,811 reports of domestic violence;
579 were charged and placed before the courts.

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7. Please provide information on legislative and other measures that prohibit
and eliminate corporal punishment of girls in all settings, including schools
and homes, as recommended by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the
United Nations Study on Violence against Children and the CEDAW
Committee’s general recommendation No. 19

Section 9 of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act and Section 7 of the Summary
Jurisdiction (Offences) Act provide that it is not a criminal offence, either
indictable or summarily, for a guardian or teacher to administer reasonable and
proper punishment on a child.

The Infancy Act, Juvenile Offenders Act and the Domestic Violence Act prohibit
violence and abuse of children, including the girl child. Equally, provisions of the
Child Care and Services Development Act (2009) prohibit corporal punishment of
children within the care of a guardian or agency falling within the ambit of the Act.
However, these Acts, excluding the Child Care and Services Development Act, do
not prohibit the reasonable administering of punishment as envisioned by the
proviso of the Criminal Law (Offences) Act and the Summary Jurisdiction
(Offences) Act. Where there have been occurrences of severe beatings by parents
or guardians of children, the matter has been tried criminally under the offence of
assault causing grievous bodily harm.

As stated in Guyana’s State Party Report to the Committee on the Rights of the
Child in 2010 and its response at the review session of its Universal Periodic
Report May and September 2011, that while there are ongoing consultations on the
Draft Education Bill, which includes provisions dealing with corporal punishment
in schools, the policy of the Ministry of Education is that corporal punishment can
only be administered by the head teacher or someone fully designated by the head
teacher to administer corporal punishment. In light of Sections 9 and 7 of the
statutes afore-mentioned, the administering of corporal punishment must be
reasonable and proper, thus not amounting to grievous or actual bodily harm, a
criminal offence under the above-mentioned legislations.




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It should be emphasized that Guyana committed in September 2010 at the
conclusion of the UPR process of Guyana to continue holding consultations on this
issue.

The Government of Guyana, after the national and regional elections of November
2011, and, the installation of a new President and government, decided to
resuscitate10 the consultations on the draft Education Bill and the issue of the
abolition of corporal punishment. The Ministry of Education has been directed by
the President to hold a National Consultation in 2012 on the educational system
which will include a review of the draft bill and the abolition of corporal
punishment in the schools. The newly appointed Minister of Education, Minister
Priya Manickchand hosted a television programme with various stakeholders
discussing the abolition of corporal punishment which attracted national attention.

Guyana will continue its consultation on the abolition of corporal
punishment in the schools with the aim of bringing this in line with
international standards.


Trafficking:

8. The report provides information on establishment of the Counter
Trafficking in Persons Unit (TIPS) launched in 2008 in the Ministry of
Human Services and Social Security, as well as existence of statistical data on
human trafficking in this Unit. Please provide further information on the
impact of this unit on combating trafficking of women and girls and the data
on reports of human trafficking for 2010.

The Combating Trafficking in Persons Act was enacted in 2005. In keeping with
this legislative framework, combating the trafficking in persons, especially of
women and girls, continues to engage the attention of the Government through the
partnership of the Ministerial Task Force comprising of the relevant Ministries

10
  It should be remembered that in 2006 the Parliament of Guyana deferred the debate on corporal
punishment at the requests of some sections of the civil society, including religious bodies and
individuals, who wanted to see consensus of all the political parties on the issue. The three
political parties sitting in Parliament (the Alliance for Change, People’s National Congress
Reform and the People’s Progressive Party Civic) all agreed with the deferment.


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(Ministry of Human Services and Social Security, Ministry of Home Affairs,
Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of
Legal Affairs) and Non-governmental Organizations (Help and Shelter and Food
for the Poor), NGOs and Community Based Stakeholders.

The Ministerial Task Force is administered within the Ministry of Home Affairs
and is chaired by the Minister of Home Affairs. This body produces annual reports
on the status of Guyana’s efforts to combat trafficking in persons. Its revised
National Action Plan 2010-2011 is attached.

The Ministerial Task Force held public awareness and education programmes in 12
schools across Administrative Regions 2, 4, 5, 9 and 10, and expanded its reach
through its collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO)
TACKLE programme to hold public awareness campaigns for parents, community
leaders, out of school youths and other community partners in selected
communities across Administrative Regions 2, 4, 5 and 10.

The Ministerial Task Force further collaborated with the OAS and CIDA to
conduct a two-day training seminar under the theme “Strengthening the Capacity
of Law Enforcement Officials, Judges, Prosecutors in the Caribbean to Identify and
Combat Trafficking of Persons, especially Women and Children”, with the aim of
increasing awareness of officials and strengthening their capabilities in preventing
and combating trafficking. 40 persons including Police Officers, Immigration
Officials, Prosecutors, Magistrates and Judges participated in this seminar.

In the year 2010, the continued joint efforts of the Government and NGOs
progressed with sensitization, public awareness, education programmes,
investigations and convictions.

In the same year, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs innovatively integrated
trafficking of persons’ education and awareness information into its Sexual and
Reproductive Health (SRH) programme. It further collaborated with the Ministry
of Education to conduct workshop sessions for teachers of 11 villages in the
Mabaruma District ( Administrative Region 1).

As further evidence of the Government’s ongoing efforts to prevent trafficking and
prosecute offenders, the Ministry of Home Affairs incorporated information on

                                                                                 19
trafficking in its training sessions at its Community Policing Conference for youth
and women.

The Ministry of Human Services conducted training and capacity building
workshops for TIPs Community Focal Points in the hinterland communities of
Lethem, Kato, Port Kaituma and Mabaruma.

The NGO Help and Shelter continued to support government’s efforts by
conducting public education outreach programmes in several Administrative
Regions and distributed brochures and posters on trafficking in persons. The target
groups included employees of Health Centers with pre and post natal clients,
teachers at nursery, primary, secondary and tertiary schools, religious and other
groups.

The Guyana Police Force, Criminal Investigation Department, investigated 7 cases
of trafficking of persons involving 9 persons in 2010. Of these, 2 persons were
charged with trafficking of persons at the close of investigations; in one of the
cases 2 victims were involved and the other 1 victim; 1 perpetrator was charged for
rape; investigations are ongoing in 2 cases. In one case, the investigation revealed
that the victim was not trafficked and she was advised to seek civil action for
breach of contract with regard to monies owed to her, and another investigation of
a complaint received by 2 females revealed that they were not victims of
trafficking.

In 2010, Guyana recorded its first trafficking of persons’ conviction and the
perpetrator was sentenced to 3 years in prison after she was found guilty of
trafficking two girls at One Mile Potaro Road, Bartica (Administrative Region 7).11

It must be noted that all reports of trafficking in persons are treated with priority,
whether investigation reveals that there was indeed a case of trafficking or not, and
complaints whether trafficked or not are given assistance by the Ministry of
Human Services Counter TIPS Unit.

This Unit continues to receive reports of trafficking of persons through its hotline
numbers and walk-ins and all reports are thoroughly investigated. The TIPS Unit

11
  The information provided herein was obtained from the 2010 Report of the Ministerial Task Force on
Trafficking in Persons, 2010.

                                                                                                   20
continues to provide counseling, financial and other necessary assistance to victims
and supports the Ministerial Task Force with its dissemination of information and
public awareness workshops and campaigns.

Employment:

9. The report states that according to section 8 of the Prevention of
Discrimination Act 2007, sexual harassment at work place is unlawful and
that the aggrieved party can move to the Magistrate Courts to have the matter
heard. Please indicate that in light of this law, is there a complaint mechanism
in place to allow women both at public and private sectors to confidentially
report sexual harassment to the employer prior to taking the case to the
Magistrate courts. The report further states that at the time of reporting no
cases of sexual harassment have been brought before the Chief Labour
Officer. Please provide information on the extent of sexual harassment at
workplace and on the steps taken to protect women after they bring the case
against the perpetrator.

As stated in Guyana’s report to CEDAW, the Prevention of Discrimination Act
1997 provides for the Chief Labour Officer (CLO) to arbitrate in instances of
sexual harassment. The complaint mechanism in place is as follows: where a
victim of discrimination or harassment based on sex arises, whether in the public
or private sector, the matter can be raised with a superior officer within the agency
or directly with the Chief Labour Office, Ministry of Labour, if there is fear that
further discrimination would occur. Where it is a case of discrimination based on
the individual’s gender, the Chief Labour Officer intervenes, and an investigation
is conducted by officers of the Ministry of Labour and if the complaint is found to
be valid the Chief Labour Officer acts as arbitrator/negotiator between the
employer and the aggrieved employee. The aggrieved individual has the right to
have a lawyer present at the arbitration, and if they cannot afford one, they can
approach the Guyana Legal Aid for legal assistance. The Chief Labour Officer
ensures that the absence of an attorney does not prejudice the aggrieved individual.

In the instance where the complaint involves one of sexual harassment falling
within the provisions of the Sexual Offences Act or the Criminal Law (Offences)
Act, there is a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Labour, Human

                                                                                  21
Services and Social Security, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Ministry of
Health and Law enforcement agencies.

Where the complaint is received by the Ministry of Labour, the CLO or one of the
labour officers receives the complaint and provides assistance for the aggrieved
individual to be immediately removed from the employment and placed under the
care and guidance of the Ministry of Human Services who is responsible for
providing counseling, transportation and a safe haven for the individual, or the
Ministry of Amerindian Affairs12, where the individual is an Amerindian or a
resident of the interior.

The CLO further carries out an investigation and where a case of sexual
harassment is found the CLO informs the police of the matter, who carries out an
investigation and brings charges against the individual. The police liaise with
either the Ministry of Human Services or Ministry of Amerindian Affairs,
depending in whose care the victim has been placed.

The Ministry of Labour deals with the wage aspect of the complaint, while the
Ministry of Human Services and Ministry of Amerindian Affairs looks after the
protection, relocation and counseling of the victim; the Ministry of Health
intervenes by providing medical assistance to the victim.

In 2010 there has been one reported case of sexual harassment falling within the
provisions of the Sexual Offences Act. The case involved a person of Amerindian
descent who was a live-in domestic and the matter was reported by a neighbour.
The CLO intervened and immediately removed the victim from the situation. The
victim was placed in the care of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the police
was informed of the incident by the CLO. The person was charged. The Ministry
of Amerindian Affairs provided counseling and assisted the victim to return to her
family in the interior. The criminal matter is pending.

The Women and Gender Equality Commission held a consultation on sexual
harassment on the job with staff from law enforcement, government

12
     The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs has a Welfare Department and social workers knowledgeable in
providing counseling, care and assistance for relocation for victims of domestic or sexual abuses.



                                                                                                     22
ministries, the Director of Public Prosecutors office and non-governmental
organizations including trade unions as part of its May 1, 2011, Labour Day
activities.


Health
10. The report acknowledges that the main cause of female morbidity
and mortality is high blood pressure, heart diseases, and diabetes. Please
provide information on specific preventative measures such as provision
of adequate access to primary healthcare services for the purpose of
screening and health education and awareness programmes that are in
place to all women and particularly women who are at high risk of these
diseases.

Under the National Health Strategy for 2008-2012,13 Guyana has developed a
programme to address the problem of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCD)
that affect women, these include a combination of:

       nationally led efforts to inform individuals about how they can reduce the
        risks of these chronic diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and
        diabetes and to promote environmental change through actions in other
        sectors:
       promotion of physical activity in schools and communities, policies and
        regulations about smoking and alcohol, to encourage public and private
        service providers to strengthen integrated primary care, encourage early
        reporting of chronic diseases, and offer more effective treatment and
        management.

Indicators and targets for progress in containing chronic non communicable
diseases have been identified to measure inputs and activities aimed at changing
relevant behavior, these include:
     100% of persons coming into contact with the health sector for non-
      emergency care routinely screened for diabetes and hypertension.
13
     Please refer to www.health.gov.gy/pub/moh_nhss_0804

                                                                                23
    80% of people having access to preventive education based on regional
     guidelines, and 80% of chronic diseases being diagnosed on a timely basis,
     and receiving quality care by 2012
    introducing a programme to promote self-care for persons with chronic
     diseases and ensuring that persons living with chronic diseases have been
     trained in self care by 2012.
    100% of persons living with diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular
     diseases receiving annual lipid investigation, eye examination and foot care.
    100% of health care facilities using national guidelines for prevention and
     treatment of diabetes and hypertension, and all health facilities
     implementing the Integrated Management of Adult Illnesses (IMAI) by 2012
    Develop programmes to aid in reducing the proportion of school aged
     children who smoke
Guyana has an extensive primary health care system supported by secondary
hospitals in the administrative regions and a tertiary care referral and
teaching hospital. The government manages and funds through the Ministry
of Health the public health care system which is free. Over 70 % of the
population uses the public health system.
The Primary health care facilities hold chronic diseases clinics on a monthly
basis and can refer patients who need more specialised care to the secondary
and tertiary hospitals.
The most important challenge to overcome is to ensure that patients seek
medical attention early and attend their monthly clinics while following the
regime of diet, exercise and medication as prescribed.
The National Insurance Social Security Scheme assists contributors with re-
imbursement for medication and partial financial support for medical
attention (heart surgery for example) and eye glasses where these are
purchased by the patient.


11. The Report refers to the initiatives specific to maternal and child
health implemented within the framework of 2006-2010 Maternal and
Neonatal Mortality Reduction Strategic Plan. Please provide
                                                                                24
information on the outcome of this strategic plan and goals achieved, as
well as measures envisaged under this plan to reduce maternal
mortality.
The Health Ministry has taken significant steps to address maternal/infant
deaths by emphasising early identification of high risk pregnancies,
exercising good practices and the effective provision of services at health
centres.
The 2011 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Guyana Progress Report
indicated that there has been a reduction in maternal mortality to 86 deaths
per 100,000 live births in 2008, and, access to reproductive health services
has increased. Improvements in maternal health have been bolstered by
almost universal antenatal care coverage, increased access to improved
facilities and -a key indicator of success - over 96 percent of births are now
attended by skilled health personnel, an improvement from 85.6% in
previous years.
The key priority in maternal health is improvement of the quality of care
offered by the maternal health care team, including nurses and obstetricians.
Priorities identified by the government for further investment are increased
availability of blood and fluids in all health facilities, greater availability of
specialist staff trained in obstetrics and gynaecology, wider geographic
coverage of skilled medical staff and of medical evacuation, promoting
prenatal nutrition and strengthening the system of high risk referrals
For further information, please refer to the 2011 MDG Guyana Progress
Report, pages 42-4, and 46 for relevant data and gaps which are being
addressed.
According to the same report, Guyana has already made the target of
reducing the under-five mortality rate by two-thirds by 2015, and aims to
further improve its record of reducing child mortality.
The under –five mortality rate has declined from 120 per 1,000 live births in
1991 to 17 per live births in 2008. With regard to this decline in child
mortality, this is attributed to the successful implementation of the nutrition

                                                                                     25
and maternal and child care initiatives, including expanded programmes for
comprehensive child immunization coverage, an integrated approach to child
health and development and in HIV/AIDS, the provision of free Prevention
of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programme.
Priorities for the government in this area include improving the quality of
care fro under-one children, especially at and around the time of birth, and
improving the nutritional intake of both mothers and babies.
Women with Disabilities
12. The report indicates that the Persons with Disabilities Bill 2009 was
expected to be enacted by July 2010. Please provide updated
information on its current status.
The Persons with Disability Act, Act No. 11 in 2010, was enacted. This
comprehensive piece of legislation was subjected to thorough scrutiny and
further amendment by a Parliamentary Special Select Committee prior to its
approval by the National Assembly.
It guarantees the rights and freedoms of people with disabilities in Guyana.
The Act spells out the fundamental principles that must be afforded to
persons living with disabilities and is guided by principles established in the
United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The new National Commission on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as
provided in the Act was appointed in early 2012 and replaces the Presidential
Commission on Disabilities which was established in 1996.
The new Commission assumes responsibility for the office and staff of the
former Commission and receives budgetary support from the Ministry of
Health.
Rural Women
13. The Report indicates that the population of the State party is mostly
rural, as only 27% of the population is urbanized. Please provide
information on rural women’s access, particularly in remote areas, to
health care services, including reproductive health, employment,

                                                                                  26
education and involvement in political affairs of their communities and
country as a whole.
Guyana is divided into urban, rural and hinterland (interior where the
majority of the Amerindian or indigenous peoples live). Many people live in
rural or new peri-urban housing areas and commute to work in urban
centers.14
Guyana’s seventh and eight periodic report (CEDAW/C/GUY/7-8) answers
these issues. Pages 44 para # 252-255, page 45 para #260, pages 56 para #
323 to 61 para # 350 contain extensive information on rural women’s access
to health care services, including reproductive health, employment,
education and involvement in political affairs of their communities and
country as a whole.
The fact that females are equally represented at school enrollment at both
primary and secondary school levels illustrates that Guyana has overcome
the inequalities which existed with regard to access to education.
Women employed in the non-agricultural sector have increased from 29% to
33% in 2006, signaling an opening up of labour markets to women. Whilst
the overall unemployment has declined to 10.7%, female unemployment has
also declined from 15% to 13.95% in 2006. The proportion of females who
are own account/self employed has increased from 12.8 % to 20.7% in 2006.


Marriage and family relations:

14. The paragraph 362 of the report refers to Age of Consent Act 2006 and
Marriage Act 2006 prohibiting child marriage before age 16. The report also
indicates that at age 18 any male or female can get married without the
consent of parents. Please clarify the legal age of marriage for both women
and men.


14
  Guyana will be holding its National Population Census in 2012 and so more up to date information will become
available in 2013. Whilst the 2002 census revealed that only 27 % of the population live in urban centers,
movement of people internally in Guyana and the emergence of new housing schemes in the 10 Administrative
regions show a shift in the demographic spread of the population and the emergence of new peri-urban centers in
what were formerly known as rural areas..

                                                                                                             27
The legal age of marriage without parental consent is when a person reaches the
age of majority, in Guyana’s instance, 18 years old. The minimum age for
marriage with parental consent remains the age of 16 years.

As a clarification, the age of consent for sexual activity is governed by the
Criminal Law (Offences) (Amendment) Act 2006, colloquially termed the Age of
Consent Act. The age of consent for sexual activity, as reflected by this
amendment, is 16 years for females.

The age for marriage and the age for consent to sexual activities should not be
confused; one deals strictly with age at which females can legally enter into sexual
activity without committing an offence – the Criminal Law (Offences) Act
(Chapter 8:01), and the other deals with the age persons can legally enter into the
union of marriage, either with or without parental consent, (Marriage Act chapter
45:01).

15. The Report refers to a Single Parent Assistance Programme launched in
2009 that grants allowances to assist single parents (mostly mothers) with day
care expenses and skills training to make them more marketable in the job
market. Please provide updated information on the outcome of the
programme.

The Single Parent Assistance Programme launched in 2009 continues to its
mandate with the aim of increasing economic opportunities and generating income
for single mothers. impact on the lives of single parents across Guyana.

There are (two) 2 components to this programme: Component 1 is training of
single parents and Component 2 is providing the day care assistance to single
parents. The GoG intends, in 2012, to extend the Single Parent Assistance
Programme to two additional Administrative Regions, 1 and 7, in the interior
where over 400 additional single parents stand to benefit. The programme has
benefitted single parents from Administrative Regions 2, 3,5,6,8 and 10. It is
anticipated that over 700 single parents will benefit from vouchers for day care
assistance and approximately 2000 single parents to benefit from training in small
business initiatives in 2012. The aim is to see an improvement of trainees’
capabilities in effectively conducting their business and affording them the
opportunities to be able to source markets for production.

                                                                                 28
To date (April, 2012), the Ministry of Labour Human Services and Social Security
through the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) trained 423 single parents in
cosmetology, computer repairs, and electrical installation among other skills.

Further, the State Party announced the creation of a new window for poor and low
income women to access micro-credit loans, training and guidance so as to create
economic opportunities for self-employment through a partnership with one of the
commercial banks. The Women of Worth (WOW) project, launched in June of
2010, provided assistance to over 3480 single parents, including men, for the years
2010 and 2011.WOW is the only micro-credit facility available to women between
the ages of 18 and 65 years of age.

For the month of January, 2012, the Ministry of Human Services has already
received 430 applications from single parents desirous to tap into this facility. This
year, the Ministry of Human Services is expanding its WOW programme to
Regions 1 and 7. The Facility was previously available to the coast regions,
Regions 2,3,4,5 and 6. The Ministry intends to enhance its efforts of providing
training to single parents, through its Guyana Women Leadership Institute (GWLI)
and similar organizations and seek to guide single parents on marketing their skills
and products. Public awareness campaigns will also be intensified in the area of
informing single parents and communities on how they can access the micro-credit
facility.

To summarize:

2011

    Under the WOW programme, over 1,000 single mothers accessed loans for
     investment in a small business
    The Single Parent programme under BIT trained 423 parents in
     cosmetology, computer repairs and electrical installation
    Guyana Women’s Leadership Institute (GWLI) empowered over 230
     women through several capacity building programmes offered at the
     institute, including life skills and for the first time information technology
2012



                                                                                   29
     training will be provided to 2,000 women in areas such as small business
      management, basic accounting and self improvement
.

16. The report refers to the section 16(9) of the Married Persons Property Act
Cap. 45:04, which relates to distribution of property, and by which the Judge
in making an order with respect to the property in dispute may take into
consideration the contribution made by the spouse to the marriage and to the
welfare of the family depending upon the years of marriage and working
status. The State Party respectfully submits that this Act is not “gender
neutral”. Please provide information on the measures taken to ensure equality
between men and women in family matters.

While the Married Persons Property Act is not gender neutral, in practice the
courts in dealing with matters of the nature envisioned by this Act adopts a gender
neutral approach. Hence, the courts conduct the same inquiry and apply the same
tests as set out by Section 16.

It should be noted that Guyana is still a patriarchal society, with division of
property matters engaging the courts usually as a result of the woman seeking to
obtain assets from the marriage or cohabitation from the male spouse than vice
versa. Common law marriages are legally recognized and spouses are able to
acquire division of property and or inheritance as in a marriage.

Guyana’s current laws and policies are gender neutral. Further amendment to the
Married Persons Property Act will engage the attention of legislators in the future.


Natural Disaster
17. Please provide information on how natural disasters impact women
in the state party and whether a gender perspective has been
incorporated into national disaster relief strategies and national policies
aimed at combating the negative impact of climate change on families
particularly women and children.



                                                                                  30
Natural disasters impact women and children in a negative way since they are
among the most vulnerable groups within any society.

During the 2005 flood, where over 300,000 people were affected, women as well
as children suffered from water born diseases and many were removed or
voluntarily sought refuge and were taken care of at temporary shelters.

Within 24-36 hours, food relief and water were being distributed throughout the
affected areas by the GOG and the Civil Defence Commission. The Ministry of
Health launched a massive public campaign with UN support where free
medications were distributed to residents to prevent an epidemic.

After the flood waters abated, the Government provided financial assistance to
those affected for loss of property, crops and livestock.

The Government of Guyana continues to ensure the protection of women and
children through projects such as “Strengthening National and Local Capacities for
Disaster Response and Risk Reduction 2009 – 2012” which is an initiative that is
jointly funded by UNDP, the Government of Guyana and the Inter-American
Development Bank. A critical component of this project was the development of a
Disaster Risk Management (DRM) policy in Guyana. The policy is in its draft
form and is currently being finalized. It will focus on gender mainstreaming
strategies measures and initiatives that will entail:

    Committing to gender analysis and gender mainstreaming through enhanced
     cooperation and collaboration among all stakeholders.
    Ensuring women and men’s equal access to natural hazard early warning
     systems.
    Establishing gender specific data and statistics on impact of disasters.
    Carrying out gender-sensitive vulnerability, risk and capacity assessments.
    Increasing awareness of the public and media on the gender-sensitive
     vulnerabilities and capacities in disasters and gender-specific needs and
     concerns in DRM.



                                                                                31
    Supporting research institutions to study the cost-benefit and efficiency of
     gender-sensitive policies and programmes in disaster risk reduction, climate
     change adaptation and poverty reduction.
    Supporting gender-sensitive financial risk-sharing and risk transfer
     mechanisms.
    Improving disaster preparedness, response and contingency planning from a
     gender perspective and making them respond to the specific needs and
     concerns of men and women.
    Increasing women’s participation in disaster relief coordination and securing
     equal access to disaster relief assistance between men and women.
    Support Mainstreaming Women and Children Issues: Throughout the DRM
     system great consideration will be also given to these two special groups.
     The policy will seek to enhance the safety and protection of women and
     children as well as build their resilience.


Optional Protocol and amendment to article 20, paragraph 1
18. Please provide information on any progress made with respect to
ratification of or accession to the optional protocol to the Convention.
Please also describe progress towards acceptance of the amendment to
article 20, paragraph 1, of the Convention.
Ratification or accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention as well
as the Government of Guyana’s acceptance of the amendment to article 20,
paragraph 1 of the Convention are currently under consideration.




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