There were reports the government discouraged religious groups from becoming advocates on social issues, especially in cases in which the government considered the group’s position to be critical of government actions or policies.
The Guyana Defense Force (GDF) coordinated with civilian religious groups to provide military personnel with access to religious services. Leaders of many religious groups conducted prayer services and counseling on GDF bases. Government representatives regularly participated in the observance of Christian, Muslim, and Hindu religious holidays throughout the year.
The government limited the number of visas for foreign representatives of religious groups based on historical trends, the relative size of the group, and the president’s discretion.
Religious groups stated they continued to experience adverse effects from a 1976 government takeover of the administration of more than 600 private schools and hospitals, many of which had been run by religious organizations. Religious groups retained title to these properties, but the government required they be made available for government use as schools and health clinics. Although the government continued to pay a nominal rent each year, religious groups wishing to terminate government control were unable to do so. Religious groups stated that in some cases when the government ceased using the properties for health and educational purposes, other government agencies attempted to occupy the properties, but in all reported instances the religious organizations were successful in negotiating with them to leave the premises. In cases where the government returned the properties to religious organizations, some of the properties were in poor condition.