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Toshaos Council calls on Gov’t to reverse Lands Commission; President said body was consulted

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The National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) is calling for the reversal of the Lands Commission of Inquiry which was established to address both issues surrounding the ownership of lands acquired by freed Africans and Amerindian Land Titling.

In a statement today (Tuesday, March 28, 2017), the NTC noted that two separate entities need to be established to deal with the issues currently “placed under such a blanket.”

The body stated that it will refuse to cooperate with the Commissioners since it was never consulted on the formation of the Commission.

“The severe lack of consultations, non FPIC compliant, and the mere fact that a unilateral decision can be made on behalf of the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana in such a manner are most concerning,” the Indigenous body said.

Commissioners of the Lands Commission of Inquiry along with President David Granger (Centre)

It was noted that while the NTC supports Reparations and Repatriation of African Lands and addressing that issue with a great degree of urgency, the Indigenous Lands issue “cannot and should not be viewed in the same light, nor can it be addressed under the same framework.”

This is clearly viewed as an attempt to dispossess the Indigenous Peoples of their lands, by the Toshaos.

The NTC pointed out that in the Amerindian Act of 2006, as a matter of Law, there exist a process that speaks to the issue of Amerindian Lands while under the Amerindian Land Titling Program, there exists a very robust framework that speaks to Amerindian Lands.

During an invited comment on earlier today (Tuesday, March 28, 2017), President David Granger sought to deny the lack of consultations. The President said “there is on the commission a person who’s to be described as the legal advisor to the APA (Amerindian Peoples Association), and he is well known, he’s a lawyer..so I think there had to be some consultation and persons who are on that commission have come from a wide section of the community.”

He added that the establishment of the COI was announced: “the National Toshaos Conference I think in August last year.”

However, the NTC members pointed out that it was at the National Toshaos’ Conference of 2015, His Excellency committed in his Ten Point Plan, to establish a “Hinterland and Indigenous People Lands Commission” that will address all Indigenous Lands Issues which the NTC, without resolve, supported.

It, therefore, called on the President to completely repeal of the mandate of the Lands Commission of Inquiry and to establish the Indigenous Peoples’ Lands Commission.

“Failure by His Excellency to Act would clearly demonstrate that Guyana’s Indigenous Peoples are being marginalised by the Government of Guyana once again,” the body concluded.

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