With landmark rights ruling, Isseneru villagers to propose solutions to gov’t

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A landmark ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has found that the rights of the indigenous people living in Isseneru were violated and now, these residents plan to propose compensatory solutions to the government.

Isseneru is an indigenous community in Region Seven (Cuyuni- Mazaruni). And in 2013, the community sought aid from the rights commission after mining concessions were granted on their ancestral land.

Mining, the community said, resulted in health and social problems.

“For years, we have felt the negative impact of these actions.

“Our waterways have been populated, our natural environment destroyed, our livelihoods diminished and our residents left to face a growing number of social ills,” Isseneru’s Toshao Dhaness Larson said at a press conference on Friday.

Isseneru’s Toshao Dhaness Larson (Photo: Facebook/ RDC Cuyuni- Mazaruni)

Now that the IACHR, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States (OAS), ruled that the residents’ human rights were violated by the government, the Toshao called on the government to “take significant steps” to address the violations.

The IACHR recommended that key compensation measures be provided to the villagers for the “material and immaterial” damages suffered.

Though calls were made for an end to expanded mining activities in Isseneru, the Toshao said that all the villagers will fully discuss the IACHR’s rulings and recommendations with a view of determining “next steps.”

The Toshao also advocated for a revision of the 2006 Amerindian Act, since he believes that this will help protect the rights of indigenous people further.

Representative of the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) and Isseneru villager Dwight Larson added that those consultations will allow the community to craft possible solutions that it will present to the government.

“It is an urgent matter and we are prioritising it in every possible way,” the APA representative said.

Guyana’s government is tasked with informing the rights commission of the measures it intends to adopt to provide recourse to the villagers in about two months’ time.

On Friday, during a press conference, Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo said that the government has not yet examined the IACHR’s ruling.

But the Vice President said that the government has been keenly interested in the protection of indigenous people’s rights.

“We have to leave room for them to grow and have special protection but at the same time, we live in a unified country so whatever we do in one area has repercussions in other areas,” the Vice President stated.

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