Timeline needed for completion – NTC Vice Chairman

first_imgAhead of a National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) executive meeting in October, Vice Chairman Lenox Shuman is imploring the Government to sit with the Council and set a timeline for the completion of the revision of the Amerindian Act.Shuman said while the revision must be comprehensive and methodical, it is pertinent for a timeline to be established. The Council has signalled its intention that it would like to become the key player in the amendment of the Act and also called for widespread consultation on the piece of legislation, since it would affect the entire Indigenous peoples’ population.The process of discussions began at the National Toshaos’ Council Conference two weeks ago when recommendations were offered from various Indigenous leaders and villages. These suggestions have been recorded and will be discussed at the Council’s executive meeting in October.NTC Vice ChairmanLenox ShumanThe Vice Chairman, meanwhile, indicated that the State has failed to fulfil its obligation to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples. He stated that they are still maintaining somewhat discriminatory laws – the Mining Act, the Forest Act and the Protected Areas Act.“All of these things they are discriminatory in nature and do not fall in line with Article 149 G,” Shuman said, adding that the Council is working with Government to develop a framework to ensure that Government meets their obligations.“When there is a constitutional right, the State has an obligation to fulfil that right and that has not been done since the Constitution has been established,” he stressed, saying that while they are hopeful that the process of the revision of the Act itself would be expeditious, it is good to be cautious to ensure that all parts are addressed appropriately.He stated that Indigenous people should enjoy full protection under the law and preservation of their culture and heritage.Shuman previously stated that they have only “scratched the surface” in the discussions for the amendment of the Amerindian Act. He said that those responsible for discussing the way forward should adopt a careful approach because Indigenous people would not want another 2006 Amerindian Act since “it would lead to our continued destruction”.Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo had also stated that the purpose of the Amerindian Act is to cater for the needs of the Amerindian people of Guyana, adding that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic will never at the national level, support any changes that will erode the rights afforded to the Amerindian people.He had implored the Toshaos to enquire thoroughly about the benefits to be accrued by any proposed changes and if however, the answer is in the negative then, it is the duty of the Amerindian people to fight against the changes.Meanwhile, Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock has stated that Government is committed to the protection of the rights of Indigenous peoples and their lands and culture.Allicock had stated that the Council has not submitted its proposals for the revision of the Act. He stated that in 2015, they had discussed the need for the strengthening of the Act and when he spoke to the Executive Council on the first meeting, he vowed to take to Cabinet a “menu of the amendments of the Act for approval” and present them to the National Assembly for passage into law. However, the Council has not submitted its written proposals.On the other hand, the Vice Chairman stated that the establishment of a secretariat for the NTC is crucial. He said the secretariat will enable the people to channel their concerns to the NTC, thus empowering the Council to truly execute its mandate, as it is laid out in the Act.“It is difficult for us to fulfil our mandate having no office to operate from, having no permanent staff and no technical support to ensure that that mandate is met,” he said, noting that they are seeking funding.He stated that so far, they have had very positive engagement with the Inter-American Development Bank to receive funding.last_img read more