May 24, 2013 By
May 24, 2013 By
Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai spoke of the elevation of Guyana’s indigenous people, initiatives to propel their village economies, and their right to representation in several constitutional rights bodies at the 12th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York at the UN headquarters. The forum is addressing the implementation of the declaration on the rights of the indigenous peoples.
At the forum held on May 22, Minister Sukhai said, “I am proud to announce that the government of Guyana, stands firmly on the side of our country’s indigenous peoples and while the achievements are measurable, we still have a lot of work to do amidst the challenges in bridging gaps and obtaining policy objectives…. To this end, all stakeholders are encouraged to seriously contribute to greater tolerance, respect, and recognition for the rights and development of Guyana’s indigenous peoples.”
She pointed out that Guyana’s Constitution, laws and policies underscore the “equality of all peoples” and explicitly prohibit discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity, gender, and religion – not in law, not in policy and not in action. Amerindians are represented on the five constitutional rights bodies that include the Indigenous People’s Commission and the Ethnic Relations Commission, which offer direct opportunities for Amerindians to have recourse to addressing discrimination and rights issues affecting them.
The Amerindian Act, No 6 of 2006, provides for the guarantee of Amerindian land rights, self-determination within Guyana subject to state sovereignty, being mindful of the fact that there is no right to succession which is in keeping with Article 46 of the United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).
“The government’s continued focus on Amerindian land rights and ownership is a major achievement… of the 110 Amerindian communities, 98 have been awarded absolute grant and the successes of the demarcation programme have resulted in the demarcation of 77 of the 98 titled areas,” she said.
Minister Sukhai highlighted that the Amerindian Titling and Demarcation Project 2013-2015 is expected to complete all titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands for which funding is provided from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). Allocations this year amount to $77.8 million to advance the completion of 12 communities and the demarcation of eight titled villages.
With regards to self determination, decision-making and Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC), Minister Sukhai noted that Article Four of the Amerindian Act provides for the establishment of locally-elected village councils, whose mandate is to ensure good governance and management, and use of land and natural resources in their respective villages.
“Guyana has a track record of inclusionary governance and at no time in Guyana’s history was there such a high level of participation of indigenous leaders and people in the body politic of our country… in short, indigenous peoples speak for themselves and freely determine their political status and pursue their economic, social and cultural development,” she emphasised.
Participation and the informed voice of the Amerindians are identified in all the major national strategic, legislative, and developmental fora. Amerindian organisations and the National Toshaos Council (NTC) continue to lend informed voices to the formulation, revision, and updating of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), which aims to transform Guyana’s economy while combating climate change.
The next major step for Amerindians is the discussion and approval of the “opt-in mechanism” towards the LCDS for which consultations are ongoing. When addressing economic social and cultural development, Minister Sukhai indicated that the mainstreaming of Amerindian village economies’ development is dependent on the decisions of the communities for which the priorities are captured in the Community Development Plans of 166 villages. The government has committed to providing “the investment funds in support of the economic initiative of the villages”, she stressed.
Additionally, government allocated funds this year to finance an innovative project for Amerindian youth empowerment to advance youth capacity building, increasing skills and capabilities through apprenticeship and entrepreneurial initiatives for community development, said the Government Information Agency (GINA).
The government has declared a month for the nation to celebrate the diversity of its indigenous peoples, as well as their traditional and cultural heritage. The minister indicated that in relation to gender issues and domestic violence, the indigenous population, including women and girls, are targeted to benefit from gender-based interventions through a national dialogue on domestic violence and a countrywide “Stamp it out” campaign.
May 24, 2013 By
Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony said for the country to progress further, Guyanese need to overcome some of the differences which exist among them.
“We must know when to quarrel, we must know when to stop quarrelling and when to put our interest above everything else… when we quarrel and we can’t get on with our business, then we will lose in the wider scope of things,” he declared at the Annual Independence Exhibition hosted by the National Archives and the Guyana National Museum to commemorate Guyana’s independence anniversary.
Though Dr Anthony is cognisant that citizens will have their differences, he noted that persons must know when to set them aside so that the country can progress. He stated that as Guyana celebrates its 47th independence anniversary, Guyanese need to draw lessons from their ancestors. “Our forefathers did not fight and sacrifice, because they wanted to see us fall as a nation, they did so because they wanted to see us grow and develop.”
The minister posited that Guyana’s ancestors had an array of dreams for their offspring which have not yet been fulfilled hence the nation was obliged to work towards accomplishing those dreams.
Moray House Board of Directors Chairperson Vanda Radzick said Guyanese must get into gear and unite as one people to heal the divides, to jump over and cross bridges to find the path to reconciliation. “You cannot have reconciliation in a broken nation like ours and several others unless you bring to it the qualities of truth, justice, mercy, and peace.”
The Independence Day exhibition is being held under the theme “Guyanese Womanhood and the Struggle for Development”. The exhibition recognises the contributions of Guyanese women pre and post independence.
It highlights the role of women in the sugar industry and trade unions, focusing on their economic contribution. It also celebrates the female members of parliament beginning with the three Js – Janet Jagan, Jessie Burnham and Jane Phillip-Gray – who paved the way for present-day female MPs. The exhibition runs until June 8.
May 24, 2013 By
The National Assembly on Wednesday adopted the Report of the Special Select Committee of the National Assembly on the United Nations Human Rights Council with regard to the abolition of corporal punishment in schools, the abolition of the death penalty, and the decriminalisation of consensual adult same-sex relations, and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons.
The committee began work in 2012 following the move to adopt a motion addressing the issues which was tabled by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds in August 2012. Government agreed to have the motion sent to the select committee.
PM Hinds had reported to the National Assembly that Guyana appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council during the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2010, and in September 2010. The second cycle is to take place in 2016. Government is of the view that parliamentary consideration of these matters would enhance the national consultations procedurally, by being the subject of a special select committee, which would organise the meetings in a complementary, credible way.
The motion seeks to have the National Assembly adopt the terms of reference, which will guide the work of the special select committee in the determination of: the attitude of Guyanese, especially parents and children, to corporal punishment and its possible abolition; the attitude of Guyanese, particularly the families of victims, criminologists, and professionals on capital punishment and its possible abolition, and the attitude of Guyanese on any changes in the legislative provisions and criminal code regarding consensual adult same-sex relationships and discrimination, perceived or real, against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons.
May 24, 2013 By
A Jamaican-American, Hettie Powell is seeking the support of Guyanese-Americans in the Richmond Hill community to help her get elected to the city council.
Powell addressed a greater Richmond Hill gathering last Wednesday evening at a forum hosted by the Richmond Hill Democratic Club, comprising of Guyanese, to seek support for her candidacy for the City Council seat of District 28. The area includes Richmond Hill, South Ozone, Jamaica and Rochdale where tens of thousands of Guyanese are settled.
The event for the Richmond Hill Democratic Club was organised by Attorney Kawal Totaram and a host of other community leaders. Powell is originally from Jamaica where she served as a teacher and an activist before migrating to the U.S. She told the gathering she is very familiar with District 28, having lived there for 31 years. She said she has been a community activist in the district for the last 30 years.
Powell believes she is the best candidate to represent the district because of her work experience helping people and volunteering at community events. She said she has worked with different groups of people and pointed out that “her background and experience make her the ideal choice because District 28 is very diversified with many different communities”.
She said Richmond Hill has been a neglected community and needs a louder voice and proper representation to get things done, and if elected, “Richmond Hill will get an equal share of resources”.
Powell stated that she will focus on issues impacting the district and public education is among her top priorities. She noted that the district has overcrowded schools and a lack of resources. Powell also feels the district needs affordable housing and supports the idea of homeowners being allowed to refurbish their basements. She said the city needs to end the fines on housing violations and allow people time to get into compliance.
According to Powell, the fines for housing violations are excessive and drive people out of the community. Powell said businesses are facing unnecessary fines and the city needs to give tax breaks instead of fining businesses and homeowners. The District 28 candidate said she wants safe streets, community centres and economic development programmes for the district and promised to advocate for youth programmes and to be the voice for the area.
Powell said she brings integrity, honesty, transparency and professionalism to her candidacy, having been a lawyer for 22 years. “I went to law school with several members of the community,” she said. She described herself as having a strong work ethic and said she will set up a satellite office in Richmond Hill if elected.
Totaram thanked Powell for coming to the Richmond Hill Club and Powell could be a substitute for those who failed to deliver to the community.
The primary election is on September 10. Several members of the audience said Powell has impressive credentials and appears to be a genuine candidate. Many said they plan to back her candidacy.
May 24, 2013 By
The National Art Gallery on Thursday celebrated 20 years of existence with an exhibition at its headquarters located at Castellani House, Vlissengen Road.
The anniversary exhibition took the form of a simple ceremony, which was also held in observance of International Museum Day and Guyana’s 47th independence anniversary. Among the artists and art lovers who attended was U.S. Ambassador D Brent Hardt.
Addressing the proceeding was National Art Gallery Curator Elfrieda Bissember, who believes this year’s International Museum Day theme “Museums (Memory + Creativity) = Social Change”, is befitting of what the gallery represents to the public.
She said, “I think this is also what a national collection represents. It’s a national memory and also the creativity of one’s artistic citizens and one hopes that those things coming together and maybe being released and mediated by a national gallery and people like curators can possibly be shared and understood a little bit by the general public, who are inspired and encouraged to learn more for themselves.”
Making mention of the different types of artwork that surrounded the attendees at the exhibition, Bissember said art shows how “common themes and common approaches exist even in people who are separated by a generation or two and there is something about that, which possibly has to do with notions of Guyana and how people explore Guyana that gives us a sense of Guyanese art.”
The curator also pointed out that the artists’ approach to technique has evolved over the years. “It’s much more challenging, it’s more conceptual, it’s more about firm materials, it’s about how it’s being done,” she outlined.
She said local art is a good representation of what it means to be Guyanese, adding that as time progresses, it is hoped that young artists will be inspired. The exhibition encompassed paintings, sculptures, and drawings.
The National Art Gallery was established on May 24, 1993. Since it was founded, more than 200 pieces of art have been added to a collection of more than 700 works.
According to Bissember, since the gallery’s inauguration, “much has been done, yet much more remains to be done as we are aware and have more than once declared that we are in the process of building, merely, the strong foundations for what must follow in the many years of expansion [and] achievement”.
As the gallery celebrates its 20th anniversary, the founding chair of the gallery board, the late President Janet Jagan was also remembered for her tireless efforts and enthusiasm in undertaking the many events and programmes of the body.
May 24, 2013 By
On Thursday, a man was charged with simple larceny and assault.
Twenty-two-year-old Leroy Williams was brought before Magistrate Sueanna Lovell at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts and was charged with assault and simple larceny.
It was alleged that on December 17, 2012, Williams, of 51 Norton Street, stole one cellphone from Samantha Chase valued $50,000, and on May 17, he assaulted her causing bodily harm. Williams pleaded not guilty to both charges, saying that he and the complainant had been living together for seven months.
He claimed that on the day he supposedly assaulted Chase, the two of them, along with her children, were at the Square of the Revolution and then they went to Church’s , where they sat and talked for awhile. He also said that at the time the cellphone was stolen, he and Chase were living together and he had reason to take the phone.
According to Prosecutor Alexis David Hossanah, the two were friends but Williams would stalk Chase. The virtual complainant was at home when the cellphone was stolen, the prosecutor added, and on May 17, Williams slapped Chase who made a report and Williams was arrested. Hossannah also stated that Williams is a known character.
Bail was granted to the defendant in the sum of $75,000 for the simple larceny charge and $25,000 for the assault. Williams was also ordered to stay away from the complainant and the matter is set to return to court on June 12.
May 24, 2013 By
Officer in charge of the Caricom’s Directorate of Human and Social Development, Myrna Bernard says that secondary schools have been placing increasing focus on purely academics at the expense of other developmental areas.
Speaking at the 24th Caricom Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) under the theme, “Fostering Innovation through Education and Culture”, Bernard stated that technical areas such as physical education, sport, drama and music are replaced with extraneous academic activity.
The situation, she said, is fuelled by the orientation and messages sent by the assessment systems of Caribbean regions and the standards set regarding a quantitative educational accomplishments. “The meeting emphasises the need for the sensitisation of parents and educators to recognise the value of arts and sport, not only in the development of children in these specific areas, but also the contribution of these multiple intelligence to performance in traditional academic areas”, Bernard stated.
She pointed to an experience shared by Guyana with regard to the preliminary, positive and palpable results from an experiment in use of arts to address disciple and challenges in one particular school. Though focused primarily on issues of education and culture, Bernard explained that the meetings will no doubt continue to highlight the important of integrated strategies encompassing all sectors as the Caribbean region grapple with ensuring its education and culture systems play their role in fostering creativity and innovation.
“This is a major imperative for the development of the region”, Bernard mentioned. She also highlighted the value of continued functional creativity among youths as a viable means of addressing the collective human and social development agenda of the region.
“Our member states have been active participants in this process; contributing the technical expertise of their officials in the development of regional public goods to facilitate the implementation of solutions; a fine example of regional integration at work.”
Bernard added that the regional human and social development agenda is one which is shared and greatly facilitated by developmental partners and relevant institutions working along with member states and the secretariat. The 24th COHSOD Meeting will focus on the new skills set to be developed, if education at all levels is to become relevant to personal development and to the new skills set relevant to competitiveness and innovation.
It will also examine and pay attention to some special challenges which have plagued and diminished regional efforts at human resource development.
These include the escalating violence in schools and issues relating to health and development, such as the changing epidemiology of childhood obesity and also issues such as teenage pregnancy. The ministerial conference was preceded by a technical meeting of education and cultural officials in separate session on Monday and Tuesday of this week.
The joint engagement provided for a rich exchange of ideas and perspectives on the manner in which the two sectors can work together to realise not only the specific objective of the cultural industries but also the holistic development of the ideal Caribbean citizen. “We look forward to continued collaboration and cooperation as we seek to development the ideal Caribbean citizen,” the Caricom official said.
May 24, 2013 By
The Guyana Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS (GBCHA) celebrated its fifth anniversary on Thursday and hosted its annual awards for business excellence ceremony, recognising companies and individuals who have worked assiduously in fighting the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
At a simple ceremony held at Cara Lodge on Thursday, the coalition presented the awards. The Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) won the award for its “Workplace Programme” and an employee, Jaunelle Marks, received the Honourable Mention award for “Outstanding Peer Educator”.
Edward B Beharry and Company Limited employee Rohini Ramkumar collected two awards, one for “Outstanding Peer Educator” and Advocacy and Individual Leadership. The National Milling Company of Guyana Limited (NAMILCO) was given an award for “Core Competency” while Scotiabank received one for “Community Investment”.
While this is the coalition’s fifth anniversary, this is the sixth consecutive year that the business sector is being recognised for its commitment to a healthy workforce.
The feature speakers at the ceremony were UNAIDS Country Coordinator, Dr Roberto Campos, and National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) Director, Dr Shanti Singh.
In attendance were Culture, Youth and Sport Minister, Dr Frank Anthony; Human Services Minister Jenifer Webster, among the coalition’s executives and company’s representatives.
Addressing the gathering, Dr Campos said that the world is changing consistently and it is the people’s duty to adapt to the changes by preparing for the challenges ahead.
He noted that when the HIV/AIDS epidemic began some 30 years ago, it rapidly became an economic and human crisis. At that time, it was seen as the responsibility of the government’s health sector to eradicate the crisis as the epidemic widened, it became the responsibility of everyone.
Dr Compos noted that that there are currently 34 million persons living with HIV/AIDS worldwide and every day 2.5 million persons are being infected, while disclosing that in Guyana, there are some 4000 persons being treated with the disease. The doctor pointed out that Guyanese citizens and businesses have a social responsibility, a social solidarity, and a responsibility to share.
Meanwhile, Dr Singh said that Guyana has been up to par with the various national response programmes, such as the “prevention of mother to child transmission” project, which is very successful. She said that with all the work Guyana is doing to eradicate the disease from society, it is placed among the top countries that are persistent in their fight against the disease.
She applauded the GBCHA for its work, noting that the establishment of the coalition was not only strategic but necessary. The doctor reminded everyone that despite all the excellent work being done throughout Guyana, the HIV/AIDS epidemic is still very much prevalent and there is much more to be done.
On this note, she challenged the coalition to focus more on discrimination and stigma, which is an ongoing dilemma infected persons face; access of health care for men and boys; expanding its outreach across Guyana, and widening its work on general health in the workforce.
May 24, 2013 By