Letter to the Editor: IAC raises concerns over establishment of Communal Lands Commission
August 11, 2016
RE: The Indian Action Committee has questions with the proposed establishment of the communal Lands Commission.
The Indian Action Committee (IAC) has noted statements made by His Excellency David Granger which were issued as part of his address at the Fourth Annual State of the African Guyanese Forum organized by the Cuffy 250 Committee and held at the Critchlow Labour College on Sunday, 7th August 2016.
The IAC is particularly interested in the statement by the president: “It is the intention of this government to establish a Lands Commission in order to rectify the anomalies and resolve the controversies which, up to now surrounds thousands of hectares of communal lands which were purchased in the post- Emancipation Village Movement.”
The IAC recognizes that in Guyana, the only agency that is legally authorized to deal with land and land issues is the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), which was established by an act of Parliament.
The IAC believes that the “anomalies” and “controversies” must be fully explained to the entire population of this country before any attempt is made to set up a parallel agency to the GLSC.
The IAC therefore, calls upon President Granger to define the terms of reference of the proposed communal Lands Commission giving reasons why these particular land issues cannot be dealt with by the GLSC.
The IAC believes that any Lands Commission separate from, and independent of, the GLSC must not interfere with the work of the latter but be advisory in nature.
The IAC also believes that such an advisory body must have representatives from civil society, trade unions and religious bodies: and must be multi-ethnic given Guyana’s ethnic diversity.
The IAC wishes to caution President Granger that such a communal Lands Commission must not be a political vehicle that only responds to demands from Afro- centric organizations and commentators.
The IAC wishes to remind President Granger that if these “anomalies” and “controversies” are linked to reparations then these issues should be directed to the committee set up by CARICOM to seek reparations from European countries.
The IAC, since the publication of the address of President Granger in the print and electronic media, has been bombarded with questions by many persons of Indo- Guyanese origin, both within and outside of its membership, who, given the turbulent history of this country, fear that their lands may be taken away from them by the Granger Government and given to African Guyanese: and they are very apprehensive as to what mechanism, outside of the Law Courts of Guyana, would exist to address any grievance in this proposed new system that might inconvenience and victimize them.
Indian Action Committee