By NAN Contributor
News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Thurs. May 17, 2018: The U.S. Department of State has assessed the crime threat in the capital of the South American CARICOM nation of Guyana as being “CRITICAL.”
The assessment comes in the latest 2018 OSAC Guyana 2018 Crime & Safety Report, released by the Department on Tuesday, May 15th.
The report’s authors say Guyana, with a population of just 750,000, has a general crime rate that “is above the U.S. national average.”
It said that criminal activity continues to be a major issue, with serious crimes, such as murder and armed robbery, being common. The report added that “criminals regularly use weapons, despite a rigorous licensing requirement to own firearms.”
Handguns, knives, machetes, or cutlasses tend to be the weapons of choice, the report stated, adding that police officers have also been both victims and perpetrators of assaults and shootings.
Focusing on travel to Guyana, the US government warned that hotel room break-ins were reported to the U.S. Embassy by American citizens and warned travelers to use caution when opening their hotel room doors in Georgetown and to safeguard valuables left there.
The U.S. State Department is also advising travelers against walking alone outside after dark in the city, even in the immediate vicinity of their hotels, and advised visitors to exchange currency only at legitimate exchanges at hotels or airports.
However, travelers to Guyana are still only directed to “exercise normal precautions” when travelling to the CARICOM nation.
The US, meanwhile, also identified drug trafficking as “a serious concern” and “the biggest challenge to law enforcement in Guyana.” The report stated that the Guyana Police Force, (GPF), has limited resource and manpower to deter or respond to criminal activity.
Focusing on the judicial system, the report said the court is strained by limited resources and often influenced by threats/bribes while defendants linked to drug organization often use attorneys who are effective in getting cases dismissed or postponed and as a result, criminals go free on a regular basis.
The OSAC report added that corruption is widely perceived to be commonplace within many government agencies and police officers often are reportedly paid off by criminal elements and are alleged to work with criminals by either assisting or protecting them.