Indigenous rights highlighted at NTC

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, October 10, 2019

The revision of the Amerindian Act and the issue of Amerindian land titling was one of the focus areas of Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Hon. Basil Williams’ presentation on Thursday.

The Attorney General was addressing participants on the fourth day of the 13th National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC). He highlighted that the Amerindian Act 2006 Chapter 201 takes into account the views of Indigenous communities and groups and ensures good governance.

“It regulates the collective rights of the Indigenous Peoples through the granting of communal titles and the establishment of village councils.”

The Legal Affairs Minister explained that the Act allows the village to appoint officers with specific functions given to the council. He highlighted that the revision of the Act provides that the entire village be involved in the decision-making processes.

“The entire regime created by the 2006 Act really can be used to the benefit of the Indigenous Peoples in their communities.”

Several Toshaos said they would like to see the land titling process completed promptly. Minister Williams reminded that the process takes time and assured that the protection of lands is provided for in the Act.

Unlike the old Act, the Amerindian Act 2006 includes a process for the granting of land. This provides for a community to apply for land once they can prove that they have been living there for at least 25 years. The 2006 Act also supports the need for the communities to use their natural resources in a way that lends support to the concept of sustainability.

Indigenous persons also have a legal right to traditional mining with the consent of the Village Council and must comply with the relevant legislation.

Throughout 2018 and this year, consultations on the revision on the Act was held in several hinterland communities. These discussions will ensure the Indigenous residents better understand the current Act as it relates to their concerns and to document their recommendations for modification. These recommendations will be submitted in written form to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs.

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