Nandlall calls out Human Rights Association and questions its financing
More than 40 years after its formation premised on advocacy for human rights in Guyana, Attorney General Anil Nandlall, S.C, is questioning the work of the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA), its membership and financing.
“Who constitutes GHRA and what do they do for human rights in Guyana? Who are the members? Are there elections held? Where is the organisation getting its financing?” Nandlall quizzed during his Tuesday night ‘Issues in the News’ commentary aired on his Facebook page.
“Another important question that should be asked is what interest does this organisation represents?” the Attorney General also asked.
The GHRA in recent weeks has been criticising the government’s recently proposed amendments to the country’s election laws. But not only does Nandlall believe the denunciations are misguided, he now wants to know what authority the GHRA possess to comment on these matters.
Nandlall accused the association of being silent during the protracted elections period in 2020 and said he believes it is unfavourable that the GHRA would be vocal now when the government was attempting to correct the wrongs done then.
“When this country was under siege for five months, I don’t recall hearing a single word of condemnation coming from this human rights organisation. This organisation was silent.
“Now, we are trying to correct the system, repair the wrong, rectify the wrong, tighten the wrong, we are trying to repair the damage and here is this organisation beating its chest and criticizing us and misguidedly so,” he said.
But outside of electoral matters, Nandlall said the association is also silent on other major issues like crime and the onslaught of criminals on citizens in the most violent and cruel manner.
“Not even a whimper from GHRA!
“It is time we call this organisation out. Whose interest does it represent? Who is financing? What are the rules? How are those who constitute leadership elected or appointed?” the Attorney General asked repeatedly.
Nandlall claimed, “…this organisation wants to shape opinion and criticize efforts to correct gigantic wrong against people of this country.”
According to the GHRA, since 1979, it has been working to promote and protect the human rights of individuals and groups, irrespective of their beliefs and opinions and independent of governments and political parties.
But the GHRA had been accused in the past of having a political agenda.
The Attorney General’s Chambers had recognised the organisation when it was invited to submit names of persons to sit on the Law Reform Commission.
The GHRA is listed as having an office at 56 B Austin Place and Hadfield Street Georgetown.
Earlier this year, when similar questions were raised in sections of the media, the association released a statement claiming that it is a registered organization that is managed by an Executive Board, continuously elected since 1979.
It said there are annually audited accounts and the association has its own offices, built from voluntary fund-raising by members and supporters.
“Of the twelve current Board members, eight have an average age of 30 years, drawn from all walks of life and backgrounds. The focus, direction for activities and releases are all made locally and collectively and not individually,” the statement claimed then.
Back in 2013, another statement claimed that the association re-elected Sharon Atkinson and Mike McCormack as co-presidents and added a third co-president, Charles Sohan, a hydraulics engineer.
The then statement noted that five new members were also added to the executive committee: Sherwyn Blackman, secondary school teacher, Region 2; Njuma Nelson, chemist/analyst, Region 10; Kerry-Anne Cort, data analyst; Natasha George, data analyst and Cecil Morris, disabilities activist all from Region 4.