The Co-operative Republic of Guyana is a sovereign state on the Caribbean coast of South America.

 
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Constitution and government

The constitution and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression, assembly and association. There is no state religion.

The law generally protects the right of individuals to choose and change their religion and to interpret religious beliefs for themselves. Members of all religious groups worship freely.

Blasphemous libel

However, the law requires a prison term of one year for a blasphemous libel conviction, with an exemption for religious expression made in “good faith and decent language”. The government does not appear to enforce the law.

Education and children’s rights

There are both public and private religiously-affiliated schools. Parents are free to send their children to the school of their choice.

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

Freedom of expression and media freedom are guaranteed by the constitution and generally respected in practice. However, opposition party leaders complain that they lack access to state media which dominate broadcasting. In 2009, the Guyana Press Association denounced a government initiative to license media professionals as an attempt to impose control over the profession. Government officials occasionally use libel lawsuits to suppress criticism.

The government largely respects freedoms of assembly and association. However, on June 16, 2012, police reportedly shot and killed three men who were part of a political protest against rising electricity prices in the town of Linden. An additional 20 people were injured as a result of the police firing live ammunition and teargas into the crowd of protesters. The subsequent official inquiry eventually issued a report blaming the police for the fatalities, but exonerated the Minister of Home Affairs of responsibility.