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Gov’t to challenge IACHR report on Indigenous communities

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Parliamentary Affairs Ministry compiling response

In a bid to counter what it perceives as inaccuracies and biased advocacy, the government is preparing to challenge a recent report issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) concerning indigenous communities.

The report has accused the State of violating various rights of the Akawaios of Isseneru, including their collective territorial property, right to equality under the law, and access to basic necessities like health, food, and water.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

The government’s response, currently being compiled by the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry, aims to contest these allegations.

Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has publicly criticized the findings of the IACHR report, asserting that they are not reflective of the government’s efforts to support Indigenous peoples.

Dr Jagdeo dismissed the report’s conclusions as being based on partisan advocacy and lacking accuracy. He emphasized Guyana’s commitment to empowering indigenous communities, highlighting measures such as the implementation of the Amerindian Act and the significant increase in titled land for indigenous peoples during the government’s tenure. 

“I discussed this matter with Gail Teixeira, and they intend to respond to the IACHR. She said the tenure of the response will be that we don’t agree with their findings. I believe these bodies are alienated from what is happening here, and often they are activist bodies and very subjected to individual hypes,” he told reporters at his press conference at Office of the President on Thursday (June 6, 2024).

Dr Jagdeo also questioned the credibility of the report, suggesting that it may have been unduly influenced by activist organizations such as the Amerindian People’s Association (APA). He noted the APA’s opposition to certain government initiatives, such as the carbon credits program under the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) 2030, which aims to channel funds into indigenous communities for transformative projects.

“So, to go and say these [things about] Chinese Landing and Isseneru, these are two matters that are taken by the APA, the same APA that is trying to block the LCDS funds. It’s an activist kind of body. We should question their knowledge of this country and our national policies because it seems as though they don’t look at these things,” the VP expressed.

According to Dr Jagdeo, these initiatives have brought substantial investment into Indigenous villages, benefiting them across various sectors including tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure. The programme has enabled 242 Amerindian, riverine, and remote villages in Guyana to undertake transformative projects worth $4.7 billion, spanning sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and infrastructure.

“If they were to come to this country and compare Indigenous people with any part of Latin America and the Caribbean in terms of benefits from government directly on all the basic things – education, water, housing… you will see that not a single country in this hemisphere has treated Indigenous people the way we have done,” VP Jagdeo pointed out.

He added, “When we got into office, they had 6 per cent titled land. Today it is close to 15 per cent of Guyana. Check whether any country in this hemisphere has done that. The government’s record on indigenous people’s treatment is way above any Latin American country where indigenous people live.”

The government’s forthcoming response to the IACHR report underscores its commitment to defending its record on indigenous rights and development initiatives.

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