Alterations must be approached with caution – Toshao warns

first_imgAmerindian Act amendmentsThe revision of the Amerindian Act is a vital part of addressing Indigenous peoples’ rights and development, and it is crucial for the amendment to be carried out with caution.Vice Chairman of the National Toshaos’ Council, Lenox ShumanThis warning was sounded by the Vice Chairman of the National Toshaos’ Council, Lenox Shuman, as the week long debates of the National Toshaos Council (NTC) conference comes to a close.He further asserted that the relevant parties have only scratched the surface in the discussions for the amendment of the Amerindian Act.“We have gotten our toe in the room. I would say we need to be reminded that the revision would affect 212 communities and over 70,000 people so it must be done in a very careful manner,” he said, adding that the people should not expect that the revision would be completed within a year.“We cannot look at the revision of the Act being done in a single year… what we have done is simply scratch the surface,” Shuman continued.The NTC Vice Chairman said debaters need to take a very “careful and cautious approach because what we don’t want is another Act of 2006 because it would lead to our continued destruction,” he said.Shuman, however, acknowledged that the conference was a success and noted that the Council is pleased that they were given a great opportunity to control the agenda and chair without any political interference, which he pronounced was a very good start.Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, was adamant that the purpose of the Amerindian Act catered for the needs of the Amerindian people of Guyana and said 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 urged the Toshaos to enquire diligently 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.Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Minister Sydney Allicock admitted that there are some hiccups as it relates to the submission of proposals for the revision of the Amerindian Act.According to the Minister, in 2015 they had discussed the need for the strengthening of the Amerindian Act and when he addressed the Executive Council on the first meeting, he had 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.Allicock related that he had requested the Council to submit within two weeks, written proposals for amendment but none were submitted.He expressed his willingness to work with them to strengthen the Amerindian Act, but pointed to the fact that he is still awaiting their submissions.The revision of the Act was high on the agenda for this year’s NTC conference. The Minister stated that they are also pursuing an extension into the Amerindian land titling project.According to Minister Allicock, the Government believes that the Indigenous people’s land issues are critical to nation building. And they are certain that with an extension to the project, they will be able to address this matter in a very significant way.He added that contrary to what some will have them believe, the Government continues to offer significant support to the sustainable development of indigenous villages and communities across Guyana. (Jeanna Pearson)last_img read more