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The recent attack by Guyana’s Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, on the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) is not only disgraceful but also highlights the potential dangers of the country’s proposed “one ID” program. Nandlall pulled the GHRA’s corporate records and made public the contents in an attempt to discredit the organization and silence criticism of the intrusive identification card system.
According to Nandlall, the GHRA owes the state of Guyana more than $38 million and is not a legitimate organization. He accused the GHRA of deceiving the nation about its legitimacy and failing to file annual returns since its incorporation in 1979. The Attorney General also claimed that the organization has not applied for Continuance under the Companies Act, further arguing that the GHRA’s concerns about the “one ID” program are baseless.
This attack on the GHRA is particularly concerning as it comes after the organization had criticized the government’s US$35.4 million contract for the introduction of an electronic identification card system without proper legislative frameworks to guarantee data protection. The GHRA had called for the project to be halted, describing it as “reckless in the extreme.” The organization’s concerns were not taken lightly by the government, with the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, declaring that the GHRA has no credibility.
The GHRA has described the current PPP Civic Government as hostile and vindictive, claiming that the government has done nothing to achieve inclusive politics. In response to the attack, Mike McCormack, Co-president of the GHRA, questioned why the alleged breach was never raised during the 23 years the PPP were in office during 1992-2015. He also called for legal recognition of the category of non-profit organizations in order to put an end to long-standing dysfunctionality.
The attack on the GHRA raises concerns about the government’s “one ID” program, which seeks to introduce a single identification card system for all citizens. This system could potentially compromise citizens’ privacy and increase the risk of identity theft, as it would require the centralization of personal information. The GHRA’s concerns about the program’s lack of legislative frameworks to guarantee data protection are legitimate and should be taken seriously.
The attack on the GHRA by Guyana’s Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, is not only shameful but also highlights the potential risks associated with the proposed “one ID” program. The government should take the GHRA’s concerns seriously and ensure that appropriate legislative frameworks are put in place to protect citizens’ data and privacy. The attack on the GHRA should be condemned, and steps should be taken to safeguard the independence of civil society organizations in Guyana.