Legal action will be pursued if necessary on Suriname’s seizure of Guyanese fishing boats- AG


Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C. will soon write to Suriname’s President Chandrikapersad Santokhi seeking redress for Guyanese fisherfolk whose boats and equipment were seized by Surinamese authorities.

Nandlall during his weekly television programme, Issues in the News, on Tuesday said that President Dr. Irfaan Ali instructed him to write to Santokhi after the issue was raised at a public meeting in Annandale, East Coast Demerara (ECD) on Friday last.

“The intention is to seek compensation and if it is that we have to pursue litigation well then that is an avenue that will also be explored but the process will begin with a letter from me on behalf of the Government of Guyana,” Nandlall said.

The Attorney General noted that Guyana’s government will be requesting an investigation into the matter and compensation if it is found that the Surinamese authorities acted illegally.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, S.C

In July this year, three Guyanese boat captains and their fishing vessels were taken into custody at Nickerie, Suriname after they were reportedly found fishing in Suriname’s waters with apparent ‘false licenses.’

The captains, Ramesh Ramchand and Mahendra Bissessar of Annandale and Troy Tyrell of Lusignan, ECD, returned to Guyana in August after they were made to pay hefty fines but their vessels and materials were not released.

Previously, one of the vessel owners, Emmaleeta Singh, told the News Room via that the licences to operate in Suriname’s waters were rented from fishermen in that country.

Because of the proximity of Guyana’s Berbice county and Suriname, fishing in Surinamese waters has been ongoing for decades. However, based on Surinamese law, it is illegal for Guyanese fisherfolk to obtain licenses to fish there.

Suriname had agreed to issue some 150 SK fishing licences to Guyanese fisherfolk by January 2022. These SK licences are granted to vessels with a Suriname Coast (Surinaamse Kust) to fish in the offshore zone along the breadth of the coast of Suriname.

The commitment to grant Guyanese fisherfolk the license was first made during President Ali visit to Suriname in November 2020 and reaffirmed during a visit by President Santokhi to Guyana in August 2021.

Earlier this month, Guyana called on the Surinamese Government to fulfill its promise to issue fishing licences to Guyanese fishermen who ply their trade in Surinamese waters.

In a statement issued by the government, it condemned “in its strongest possible terms, the most recent harassment being meted out to our Guyanese fisherfolk by the Surinamese government, inclusive of its failure to grant licenses to our fishermen.”

After issuing statement urging its Surinamese counterpart to issue those promised licences so that fishermen can safely ply their trade, President Ali had told reporters that there has been some forward movement on the matter.

“We have agreed that a high-level meeting will take place in the next two weeks… not only current issues but the licences itself and how we address that in the long term,” the Guyanese Head of State said at the sidelines of an event on September 7, 2022.

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