Georgetown, Guyana – (October 15, 2015) The Government of Guyana through the Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, has committed to ensuring that the concerns raised in the recently released report from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, are addressed so that the rights of all Guyanese are protected.
The concluding observations report, prepared by the Committee following the review of Guyana’s Human Rights Report and contribution at the meeting, was released earlier this week and identifies several areas in which the Committee believes more needs to be done.
While the Committee praised the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act 2010, the Persons with Disabilities Act, the Prevention of Crimes (Amendment) Act 2008 and the Amerindian People’s Act 2006 along with Guyana ratification of several international treaties; the committee recommended that the State take all appropriate measures to ensure that the direct applicability of the Covenant provisions in its domestic legal order and enhance training for judges, lawyers and public officials are undertaken.
The Committee raised concerns too with regard to the granting of land titles to Amerindians, calling on the government to ensure that the Amerindian Act 2006 is revised as well as all other related laws so that their rights to their lands and resources are safeguarded.
Concerns were also raised about the availability of data and the efficiency of Guyana’s data collection systems, as well as the availability of adequate social protection services.
The UN also flagged ethnic discrimination, especially between Indo and Afro Guyanese, while asking that the root causes of corruption be addressed, through the enhancing of transparency, participation and accountability in the conduct of public affairs.
The discrimination against and protection of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) persons, the level of unemployment, equality between women and men, domestic violence and violence against women, housing, food security, rights to health and education were also raised with a view of revisiting and enhancing the necessary legislations to ensure that it provides an environment, which is friendly and non-discriminatory.
After a 20 year absence, the new administration has demonstrated its commitment to the preservation of the rights of all citizens by appearing at the 56th Working Session of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, held on September 28-29, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland, with the commitment of presenting its next periodic report in five years.
The Review was hosted to examine Guyana’s Human Rights Report, which was submitted in 2012 and the administration’s treatment of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples, particularly their levels of access to social services; the steps being taken to respect the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-sexual and Intersex (LGBTI) community in Guyana; the dearth of good quality statistical information; and the reported high levels of corruption in the country.
According to the rules of the Convention, each member state is required to submit five-year periodic written reports on implementation and observance of the Convention for review and comment by a Committee established by the Convention for this purpose. Guyana’s written submission, made in 2012, covered a period of 17 years from 1995 to 2012 with Guyana’s last appearance before the Committee being in 1995.
At that meeting, the Committee Chairman had said that he was satisfied not only with Guyana’s appearance after twenty years, but the delegation’s frankness, and willingness to address the concerns, which arose out of the Report.
Members of the delegation, which included Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, Technical Officer – Governance, Teresa Gaime, and First Secretary of the Guyana Embassy – Belgium, Ms. Bevon McDonald, were able to respond to all questions posed by the Committee, highlighting the efforts and commitments being made by the new government to address the gaps, which had existed in the fulfillment rights.
The 18 member UN Committee was pleased with the steps that are being taken by the David Granger administration to tackle Human Rights issues.
Of particular interest to the Committee, was the renaming of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs as well as the President Granger’s recent announcement of a plan to preserve Amerindian languages and culture.
In response to the continuous stream of concerns raised with regard to statistical misrepresentations within the report, the Guyanese delegation had identified the steps the Ministry of Finance has begun to take to enhance the capacity and credibility of the previously neglected Statistical Bureau through a 2015 budgetary allocation.
The Committee’s concerns on corruption had afforded the delegation the opportunity to share updates on the establishment of the State Asset Recovery Unit and the engagement of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which can possibly lead to the setting up of an office here.
The Guyanese delegation reiterated the new Government’s efforts to ensure that the rights of all Guyanese are respected; noting that the upcoming Constitutional reform process will inevitably examine the laws that are considered discriminatory to the LGBTI community.
The Committee expressed the hope that this would be the new pattern with respect to all of the United Nations’ and other international organisations obligations.
Please find the full report at http://www.motp.gov.gy/index.php/2015-07-21-18-00-58/370-committee-on-economic-social-and-cultural-rights-concluding-observations-on-the-second-to-fourth-periodic-reports-of-guyana