Guyana (Tier 2)
Guyana is a country of origin, transit, and destination for young women and children trafficked primarily for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Much of the trafficking takes place in remote areas of the country's interior, or involves Amerindian girls from the interior trafficked to coastal areas to engage in prostitution and involuntary domestic servitude. Girls promised employment as domestics, waitresses, and bar attendants are trafficked into prostitution; young Amerindian men are exploited under forced labor conditions in timber camps. Guyanese girls and young women are trafficked for sexual exploitation to Suriname and other countries in the region such as Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Venezuela. Most foreign victims come from bordering regions of Brazil, and may be trafficked through Guyana to Suriname.
The Government of Guyana does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Guyana showed appreciable progress over the last year, particularly through its enactment of anti-trafficking legislation, improvements in government coordination, and aggressive public awareness campaigns. Guyana should work with NGOs to improve services for victims; it should also more aggressively investigate and prosecute traffickers.
Government law enforcement actions against traffickers remained inadequate despite some progress during the reporting period. The government worked with NGOs and international organizations to draft a comprehensive anti-trafficking law that the National Assembly passed in December 2004. Trafficking convictions now carry sentences ranging from three years to life imprisonment and include confiscation of assets related to trafficking activity. In 2004, authorities arrested and released on bail one suspected trafficker pending indictment; no traffickers were prosecuted or convicted. The government pursued several investigations involving more than a dozen trafficking victims in 2004. Guyanese and Barbadian law enforcement officials worked together on a trafficking case; cooperation with authorities in Suriname resulted in the arrest of a Surinamese public official for trafficking Guyanese nationals for sexual exploitation. There was no direct evidence of official government involvement in or tolerance of trafficking.
The Government of Guyana made good faith efforts to assist trafficking victims over the last year, though protection of victims remained inadequate. Police initially jailed and fined four victims under immigration laws. The Ministry of Labor, Human Services, and Social Security secured their release after determining the four were victims and not traffickers, and arranged for their repatriation. As a result of this case, the Commissioner of Police and Ministry officials stated that they would coordinate more closely and ensure that victims are referred to the Ministry for assistance. For two Guyanese victims rescued from a remote mining community, the government provided medical attention, housing, and funds to return them to their home communities. Few local NGOs worked directly with trafficking victims and none reported receiving government financial support for anti-trafficking programs during the reporting period.
The Government of Guyana made significant progress in public education and awareness during 2004. Senior government officials acknowledged human trafficking as a serious problem. The President appointed a cabinet-level official to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts. The government launched a National Plan of Action, developed with the participation of local NGOs, that included a nationwide public awareness campaign with town hall meetings reaching over 3,000 citizens in Guyana's ten regions and anti-trafficking public service messages aired during widely viewed cricket match broadcasts. The government sought international and NGO support for training officials and community leaders due to its inability to financially support such programs.