Misrepresentations characterize eight human rights complaints made to int’l bodies since 2020 – Teixeira

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The Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs is currently responding to nine petitions made by local organisations to international human rights bodies, eight of which were lodged between 2020 and 2023.

These numbers are high with four such petitions made by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) between 1999 and 2015 and no reports were made between 2015 and 2020.

Minister of Governance and Parliamentary Affairs, Gail Teixeira told reporters on Wednesday that she views this increase in petitions to the Inter American Commission on human Rights (IACHR) and the United Nations (UN) as a reflection of the confidence reposed in the complaints mechanism and not necessarily as an increase in human rights breaches locally.

“I expect there will be more of that,” Teixeira said even as she called on individuals and organisations to make use of and exhaust the domestic remedies available.

She said too that the work involved in responding to the petitions made to international bodies are enormous with a small staffing at the ministry.

“The system has to work…People can use and should use those [complaints mechanism]… but the general principle is that individuals should use domestic remedies and exhaust those first,” the minister posited.

But major among her concern is that while people have a right, under specific conventions, to make petitions, most are not entirely factual.

New petitions between 2020 and 2023 were made by organisations including the Guyana Press Association (GPA), the Amerindian People’s Association (APA) and the International Decade for People of African Descent Assembly – Guyana (IDPADA-G), among others.

“If you make a complaint, at least be factual.

“Many of these cases are not based on fact, they are misrepresentations and we have to prove that.

“…And we can’t just say the organisation hasn’t factually reported, we have to show that it is not through the production of documents,” Minister Teixeira explained.

Nonetheless, she said the tone of the government’s response is one that shows commitment to implementing and expanding the human rights framework and ensuring that the government’s case is presented at best.

“It doesn’t mean we will win…we just respond with factual information, evidence, video recordings, photographs and hard data.

“…Use the service commissions, the Human Rights Commission…the Auditor General Office to bring these matters up.

“Many countries don’t have these bodies…they may not be strong but we are looking at how we can strengthen the Rights Commission to more effectively do their work.

“Nevertheless, these are venues available to Guyanese, which in some cases, are not used as much as I think they should be,” the minister added.

To make her case, Teixeira pointed to the Police Complaints Authority which is used quite often to lodge complains.  She committed that this year, these bodies will be strengthened.

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