Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

Information for U.S. Citizens Arrested/Incarcerated in Guyana

While you are travelling in Guyana, you are subject to Guyanese laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than your own. One of the highest priorities of the Department of State and U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens incarcerated abroad.

The Government of Guyana normally notifies the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is arrested. However, if you, a family member, or a friend is arrested in Guyana, please notify the American Citizen Services unit at +592-225-4900 (ext. 4222) or by email at acsgeorge@state.gov.

Guyanese law does not allow a person to be detained for more than 72 hours without being charged. For more information about Guyana’s laws and legal system, please visit our webpage “Legal Assistance”.

Does a prisoner have the right to an attorney?

An attorney plays a vital role in the Guyanese judicial process. For a list of attorneys who practice law in Guyana and have identified themselves to the U.S. Embassy as being willing to accept U.S. citizen clients, please visit our webpage “List of Attorneys.”  Please note that this list does not constitute an endorsement from the Embassy for any individual lawyer. The Legal Aid Clinic, a nongovernmental organization, provides legal counsel at a reduced fee in certain circumstances. The government provides legal counsel for destitute individuals only if he or she is charged with a serious crime (e.g. murder).

What services can the U.S. Embassy provide?

We monitor prison conditions and can protest allegations of abuse against U.S. citizen prisoners. We work with prison officials to ensure treatment consistent with internationally recognized standards of human rights and to ensure that Americans are afforded due process under Guyanese laws.

Consular services include:

  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen as soon as possible after notification of the arrest;
  • Provide a list of local attorneys to help the U.S. citizen obtain legal representation;
  • Provide information about Guyana’s judicial procedures;
  • Notify family and/or friends, if authorized by the prisoner via a Privacy Act Waiver;
  • Relay messages to family and friends.

What services can’t the U.S. Embassy provide?

  • Demand the immediate release of a U.S. citizen arrested abroad or otherwise cause the citizen to be released, or represent a U.S. citizen at trial;
  • Give legal advice or pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. Government funds.

What if a prisoner needs funds for legal fees or fines?

If someone needs to send you funds for any legal fees, fines, or other expenses the Department of State encourages you to use commercial services, such as Western Union, which are generally faster than the Department of State transfer system.  Western Union services are described at their website http://www.westernunion.com/, or by phone 1-800-325-6000.

If you choose not to use a commercial service, family or friends may send funds to you through the U.S. Embassy using the Department of State Overseas Citizens Services (OCS) Trust process. For additional information, contact the U.S. Department of State, Office of American Citizen Services and Crisis Management at (202) 647-5225. More information can be found at the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs webpage “Sending Money to U.S. Citizens Overseas.”