Based on reports culled from the daily newspapers, the number of murders in Guyana for this year up to the end of July has equalled the 113 official murder figure for the whole of last year.
These figures exclude the 16 persons killed last year and the 9 killed by the police this year in alleged armed confrontations, as the police classify these as justifiable homicides. For the same reason, the deaths of the 5 alleged bandits shot dead by licensed firearm holders and security guards who were protecting lives or property, are also excluded.
If the 31 murders at Lusignan, Bartica and Lindo Creek are excluded from the 113 for this year so far, it still leaves 82 murders, 23 more than for the corresponding period last year.
For last year and this year, at least 63 persons were killed by persons known to them – relatives, friends, acquaintances and drinking partners. One man was killed by a person described as his “childhood best friend.”
Last year’s murder rate per 100,000 population was 15.1; this year so far it is 26.1. From available data I have seen, Guyana’s murder rate per 100,000 has never dropped to single digits.
For comparison, the USA’s highest ever murder rate was 10.7 per 100,000 in 1980. Since then that country’s murder rates have dropped to between 6.9 and 5.5 per 100,000 for the last 10 years. Canada, the UK, European Union states, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Japan have much lower murder rates than the USA’s, ranging from 1 – 4 per 100,000.
The murder rate of a country is one clear social indicator of the value that it places on human life. In Guyana’s case, the high murder rate is an indicator of the level of social interaction and human relations in this country.
It could only mean that we as a people are more given to resolving conflicts violently. As for causes and solutions, I leave those to the sociologists and social engineers. But when all is said and done, Guyana is in dire need of healing from its self-flagellation.
M. Xiu Quan-Balgobind-