Gov’t fully committed to promotion, support of Amerindian rights

─ Min. Sukhai tells UN forum

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP, Tuesday said the Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali-led government is fully committed to the promotion and support of Amerindian rights and development.

She was delivering a statement at the United Nations Twenty-First Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, in New York.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP.

The forum is being held under the theme, “Indigenous peoples, business, autonomy and the human rights principles of due diligence, including free prior and informed consent.”

Minister Sukhai said as Guyana’s development enters a new and rapidly expanding phase, the minister noted that the government stands firm on the inclusion of Amerindian peoples in the national development agenda.

She noted that among the many initiatives being implemented are the land titling of indigenous communities, and the Low Carbon Development Strategy 2030.

“The strategy aims to build a low-carbon economy in Guyana, through low-carbon energy and employment and development opportunities for all sections of our society, where our world-class forest, biodiversity, water and marine resources are valued for the vital contribution they make to the health of our planet,” the minister explained.  

Amerindian rights and protection are secured under Guyana’s Amerindian Act of 2006.

Minister Sukhai said the Act sets out a process for the engagement of Amerindian Village Councils with investors. The Councils can conclude legally binding agreements following community approval. They also have access to free legal reviews of investment agreements prior to signing of the contracts.

She added that, “Capacity building is central to government’s efforts. Quality education at all levels is constantly being improved. Our Amerindian peoples are included in the 20,000 online scholarships offered by Government as well as other training opportunities.”

The minister pointed to the Women’s Innovation and Investment Network (WIIN), which is empowering women to become financially independent through technical vocational training programmes, increased business literacy and grants to encourage small business ownership.

The Youth Entrepreneurial and Apprenticeship project, she informed, also provides training and support for youths to be involved in businesses relevant to their community needs.

“Guyana stands ready to share our experiences and to learn from others,” she concluded.

The forum will conclude on May 6.