Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Guyana

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Guyana, 2004, available at: [accessed 28 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republic of Guyana

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 764,000 (274,000 under 18)
Government armed forces: 1,600 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: no conscription
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II, ILO 138, ILO 182

There were no reports of under-18s in the security forces. The minimum age for recruitment is 18.


Following post-election violence in mid-2001, the UN Special Rapporteur on racism and racial discrimination expressed concern at the ethnic polarization of political parties and the risks of an aggravation of inter-ethnic conflict.1

The state response to growing violent crime undermined and violated fundamental rights. Dozens of suspected criminals were reported killed or "disappeared" amid allegations that a death squad had been formed following a wave of organized crime in 2002. In November 2003 the report of an inquiry into police operations by the Disciplined Forces Commission referred to the possible existence of a "phantom" squad and said that the police needed "urgent, serious and wide-ranging reform".2


National recruitment legislation and practice

In August 2003 Guyana reported to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child that, under the Defence Act, "A recruiting officer shall not enlist a person under the age of eighteen years in the regular Force", and that there were no reports or evidence of infringement of this law. The government also stated that there was no conscription.3

The Guyana Defence Force is responsible for national defence, internal security and emergency response. The Target Special Squad is a police unit that has some paramilitary training.4

Other developments

In its consideration of Guyana's initial report, the Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern at the low age of criminal responsibility (ten years) and recommended that it be raised to "an internationally acceptable level". It also expressed concern at the low level of birth registration, particularly in the Amerindian (indigenous) community.5

1 UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, report to Commission on Human Rights, UN Doc. E/CN.4/2003/24, 30 January 2003,

2 Amnesty International, Guyana: Human rights and crime control – Not mutually exclusive, 13 January 2003, Guyana: Need for immediate inquiry into death squad killings, 6 February 2004, and Amnesty International Report 2004, http://web.

3 Initial report of Guyana to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/8/Add.47, 6 August 2003,

4 US Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices 2003, February 2004,

5 UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Concluding observations: Guyana, UN Doc. CRC/C/15/Add.224, 26 February 2004.

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