Any claims of discrimination can be settled at the ERC or in Court – Jagdeo

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Vice President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo has rebuffed allegations of racism and discrimination levelled against the governing People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C).

And if any individual is serious about those allegations, he reminded the public that the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), a constitutional body, and the local judicial system are means through which people can seek recourse.

During the press conference, Jagdeo did not shy away from expressing his displeasure at a visiting United States (US) group.

That group, the Organization of World Leaders (OWL) led by Former Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Dee Dawkins-Haigler, is said to be on a fact-finding mission in Guyana over allegations of racism and discrimination.

The group has been shunned by the government because of alleged ties to activist and hardline PPP/C critic Rickford Burke and his organisation, the Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID). But the group has denied any relationship with Burke or his body despite referencing his organisation in a previous press release.

Jagdeo said that critics and members of the political opposition often resort to accusations of racism or discrimination to criticise the government but they have not been able to substantiate those accusations.

And he said there are established mechanisms- the ERC and the local Courts- through which any individual can address claims of racism and discrimination. He doesn’t, however, those making allegations will utilise those mechanisms since their claims will be easily debunked.

“This will prove how fake these claims are,” the Vice President said at a press conference on Thursday.

The ERC is governed by a board that comprises representatives of religious bodies, labour organisations, the private sector, the youth population and women. It reports to the Speaker of the National Assembly.

The judicial system, on the other hand, has several levels for persons to address their concerns. The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the highest and final court of appeal in Guyana in both civil and criminal matters.

The Vice President also emphasised that the government is open to dialogue with anyone interested in inclusivity but it will not tolerate anyone seeking to undermine democratic processes and institutions here.

“Any foreign body that comes to Guyana must not undermine the democratic status of this society and the institutions here.

“We remain open to discussions with anyone but we are not going to be dictated to especially by people who claim objectivity but their actions don’t support those statements,” Jagdeo said.

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