Guyana Government is Poised to Vote on Discriminatory Indigenous Legislation

Georgetown, Guyana, South America - The Government of Guyana will soon vote on Amerindian Bill 2005 (Bill No.13 of 2005), which is being called discriminatory by the indigenous peoples of the country.

Although indigenous Guyanese (known as Amerindians) have long called for “revision, repeal or replacement” of the existing Amerindian Act of 1951, it was their hope that any new legislation enacted would fully recognize the rights. Sadly, the three main national indigenous organizations (APA, TAAMOG, GOIP) have found that the “Amerindian Bill 2005” will not only weaken many existing rights but is also incompatible with Guyana’s Constitution and international law.

The organizations, which have been intensely lobbying on this issue, have called upon the current Government to prevent passage of the Act. If the highly controversial Act is made law, challenges are expected in the courts and international human rights bodies. As Guyana will be reviewed in February 2006 by the UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, this issue will undoubtedly be a major focus.

Demonstrations are planned by the national groups with the support of community leadership at the capital during the upcoming session of the National Assembly on October 20, 2005.