COVID-19 measures led to increase in domestic violence; Police, court record over 100 convictions for 2021
The curfew and other measures that required staying at home this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant rise in domestic violence cases across the country.
While the situation is not unique to Guyana, it has forced the authorities here to take action and strengthen its capacity to respond appropriately.
Statistics were released by both Police Commissioner (ag) Nigel Hoppie and Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag) Yonette Cummings-Edwards at a ceremony to mark the opening of the domestic violence interview and virtual hearing rooms at the Leonora and Wales Magistrates’ Courts.
According to Hoppie, in 2019 there were 1499 reports leading to 918 cases filed in the courts and this led to 261 convictions.
In 2020, there were over 120 convictions.
But for up to June alone this year, there were 104 convictions. These convictions arose out of the 896 reports which were made and the 439 cases heard in the court.
That shows an increase in convictions when compared to the same period last year when there were 733 reports, 370 cases and 85 convictions.
Hoppie said the Guyana Police Force welcomes the installation of the interview and virtual hearing rooms which is supported by the United Nations Children Fund’s office in Guyana.
The Police Commissioner said several of these rooms already exist at police stations across the country and the installation of similar rooms within the court system is intended to provide a level of convenience to victims of domestic violence.
Chancellor Cummings-Edwards also provided some statistics on the trend, pointing out that between 2019 to 2020 there were a total of 5768 criminal and civil domestic violence cases in the courts.
She pointed out that these numbers are void of the unreported cases where victims may have been intimidated or shamed.
Already for 2021, a total of 1849 cases have been processed in the Courts with Justice Cummings-Edwards pointing out that domestic violence takes up a large percentage of hearings in the Courts.
“The prevalence of domestic violence cannot be denied…it transcends all social, racial and economic lines,” she added.
She extended thanks for the financial support of UNICEF that facilitated the opening of the two rooms, offering a space free of ridicule and stigmatization to victims of domestic violence.
“We do not bury our heads in the sand… we saw the need for facilities like this,” the Chancellor added.
Also attending the event on Monday was Chief Justice (ag) Roxane George, Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and other members of the judiciary.