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…urges budgetary allocation to speed up process
The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) is calling on the National Assembly to make budgetary provisions to finance the revision of the Amerindian Act 2006.
APA said in December 2020, a joint- strategy meeting was convened to discuss collective actions to develop a proposal on engaging the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Administration on the next steps in the revision of the Act, however, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, though invited, was not in attendance.
“… one of the key recommendations made at the time, was to have allocations in the next national budget to cater for revision work to continue. Two budgets have since passed, and this has not happened,” the association said.
The APA made the pronouncements in a recent statement, which followed the completion of a five-day workshop on the draft Low Carbon Development Strategy (2030) and revision of the Amerindian Act 2006.
Over 30 Indigenous leaders and representatives from across Guyana attended the forum, which took place at the Regency Suites Hotel between April 10 and 14.
The workshop, APA said, took into account the summary recommendations made in favour of the revision of the Amerindian Act and what ideal legislation can contain for effective protection of the rights of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana.
It was the latest step Indigenous Peoples organisations have taken towards having the Amerindian Act revised. In March 2017, APA and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) jointly jumpstarted a national revision process of the Amerindian Act 2006 by having a three-day activity in which several indigenous grassroots organisations participated and agreed that the revision of the Act is critical in order to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Between 2017 and now, there has been continuous work among Indigenous Peoples organisations and District Councils, including the APA, towards the revision of the Act.
“On several occasions, the government verbally indicated that the Amerindian Act is one of the legislations they will seek to revise once there is a call from a wide cross-section of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana,” the organization said.
The workshop also took into account the government’s draft Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and how it impacts the rights of Indigenous Peoples and opportunities for mitigation of these impacts.
It also aimed to build the capacity of resource persons from the regions and representatives of various Indigenous Peoples organisations in understanding what effective legislation for Indigenous Peoples can look- like.
However, APA said the government continues to finalise policy development in mining, forestry, and the larger Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which encompasses general policy, programme and project development.
“Unfortunately, there has not been much opportunity for effective participation and inclusion of Indigenous Peoples in these developments. That was hindered as well by the COVID – 19 pandemic. The issue of the pandemic however, did not prevent policymakers from making critical national decisions impacting Indigenous Peoples despite several concerns raised, including the ineffectiveness of the Amerindian Act 2006 to respond to the rights issues and needs of Indigenous Peoples in Guyana,” APA said.
Nonetheless, workshop participants returned to their respective communities, where they are expected to raise awareness on what they have learnt. “This will prepare villages and district councils to participate effectively in policy development and project implementation and monitoring, ensuring that the right to Free, Prior, Informed Consent (FPIC) is respected through any developmental process,” APA explained.
The activity was facilitated by APA with funding from the International and Tenure Facility and NORAD. Additional technical support was provided by the Forest Peoples Programme and the Rainforest Foundation US.
Participants comprised representatives from the Upper Mazaruni District Council, the South Rupununi District Council, the Moruca District Council, North Pakaraimas District Council (NPDC) Region 8; North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), Kanuku Mountain Community Resource Group (KMCRG), the National Toshaos Council and other Indigenous resource persons.