Diagnostic Study: Access to Justice for Indigenous Peoples in Guyana

In 2020, JES conducted a diagnostic study of the current Guyanese context regarding access to justice for Indigenous Peoples in Guyana. The study was conducted in close collaboration with a local Guyanese consultant and gender expert, Canadian experts Chief Justice Thomas J. Crabtree and B.C. prosecutor Leah Fontaine, as well as Indigenous Peoples in Guyana.

Following a desk review and research, JES organised and conducted three community consultations or “listening posts” in Lethem and Mabaruma, as well as an NGO roundtable in Georgetown, designed to maximise first-person perspectives from the participants. Workshops included a combination of spectrum exercises, plenary discussions, and working/focus groups to discuss community-based scenarios related to domestic violence, GBV, sexual offenses, and access to justice for Indigenous Peoples.

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January 2020 - March 2020

Key findings from this project confirmed substantial barriers in accessing justice in Guyana, especially for Indigenous women and girls, compounded by limited institutional programs to address the challenges Indigenous people face. The greatest vulnerability for Indigenous Peoples remains the remoteness of their communities, which leaves the majority of citizens in these areas feeling isolated from access to state-administered services, including the justice system. Victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) face increased vulnerability due to lack of access to institutions and limited outreach services for remote communities, compounded by language and cultural barriers.

  • A total of 103 stakeholders participated in workshops, of which 80% were Indigenous representatives from 15 communities in 2 interior regions
  • 12 CSOs were represented at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) roundtable held in Georgetown, including one independent social & gender justice advocate, an outreach officer, a police prosecutor and the Director of Public Prosecution
  • 1 Diagnostic report with 29 recommended actions