Home News Govt fails to fully recognise rights of Indigenous peoples – APA
Despite being in office for over four years, the APNU/AFC coalition government has failed to fulfil its commitment to relook at sections of the Amerindian Act of 2006, and this has resulted in severe hardships on the livelihoods of Indigenous folks throughout the country.
This is according to the latest land tenure report, the third of its kind, issued by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) which cited the presented administration’s failure to make amendments to laws regarding resource rights for the Indigenous peoples as a major factor for inherently limiting land tenure security across Guyana.
“The Act fails to set out clear and fair rules for defining and agreeing on land titles and also lacks clear ways of resolving land disputes. The law gives overly broad discretion to the Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, which has resulted in land titling decisions that infringe upon Indigenous land rights, including titles…and titles that exclude key farming, hunting, fishing, or gathering grounds or important spiritual sites”.
According to the document, the APNU/AFC coalition had promised that it would assist Indigenous folks and protect their rights but by failing to revise the Amerindian Act of 2006, it has done more harm than good.
It was further stated that in December last, the National Assembly held a no-confidence vote against the governing coalition and that the coalition Government has been back and forth between the Courts since that time to challenge that vote.
However, the report elaborated that according to Guyana’s Constitution, a No-Confidence Motion passed against the government requires elections to be held to conduct new elections within a three-month period but this process has put the revision of the Amerindian Act of 2006 in limbo.
“As a result of the court challenges and the Elections Commission’s stated inability to conduct elections within the constitutional three-month period, it is unclear when the next national elections will be held. There is uncertain timing to revise the Amerindian Act, a commitment undertaken by the current governing coalition. Revision of the Act has the potential to address many of the problems with the existing legislation and documented in this report”.
Indigenous persons continue to lobby for several changes to be made in the laws governing Indigenous peoples’ lands so that their rights can be upheld and protected in the country, the report stated.
The APA’s document added that the Amerindian Act of 2006 urgently needs to be revised since there are many flaws and policies that infringe on the livelihoods and development of all Indigenous peoples in Guyana. The report stated that the Act also fails to provide for measures of restitution, which would return third party property rights and interests existing within Indigenous lands to Indigenous communities.
“Almost all of the flaws in Guyanese laws and policies relating to Indigenous land tenure stem from the fundamental problem that the government does not fully recognise the customary tenure systems of Indigenous peoples and the rights that arise therefrom,” it added.