Indigenous People’s organizations object to Lands CoI
Various Indigenous People’s organisations have objected to the recently launched Lands Commission of Inquiry, which will be looking into the joint and communal ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans and the claims of Amerindian Land Titling.
In a letter published in the local daily newspaper at the weekend, the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) among others said they “strenuously object” to the fact that the CoI will address land issues both on the Coast and for indigenous communities. The bodies noted that “these issues are not connected, nor should they be, and we will not accept their linkage in any commission or otherwise.”
It is their view that such a commission will only serve to further delay on “desperately needed action on indigenous land rights.”
Additionally, it was pointed out that of indigenous peoples and organisations were not engaged, on the commission or its terms of reference. “The vague public statements made in the recent past about plans to establish a commission do not constitute even basic consultation, as they provided no information on which Indigenous Peoples could assess the commission’s necessity, utility, or potential effectiveness as a mechanism to fairly resolve outstanding land tenure rights,” the organisations said.
It is also their view that the current Amerindian Act contains a procedure for receiving, assessing, and deciding on title or extension applications.
The letter was signed by Earl Thomas, Secretary of the Amerindian Peoples Association, Mary Valenzuela, Chief of the Guyanese Organisation of Indigenous Peoples, Peter Persaud, Representative of the Amerindian Action Movement, Nicholas Fredericks of the South Central Peoples Development Association and Ashton Simon from the National Amerindian Development Foundation.
The Lands Commission of Inquiry was sworn-in on Friday, March 10, 2017. The Commissioners are David James, Carol Khan-James, Professor Rudolph James, Lennox Caleb, Paulette Henry and Berlinda Persaud. Reverend George Chuck-a-sang is the Chairman of the commission.