Security, birth registration among concerns raised – NTC Day Three

DPI, GUYANA, Thursday, August 24, 2017

Ahead of their Ministerial Day at the NTC Conference, ministers from key ministries met with indigenous leaders to field suggestions and questions on Thursday evening.

Ministers of Public Security, Citizenship, Legal Affairs and Natural Resources spent two hours listening to questions and suggestions at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE), Turkeyen.

(From Left) Ministers of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock and Minister within the Ministry, Valerie Garrido-Lowe at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE.)

Border security

Security topped the list of concerns raised by indigenous leaders this evening. Toshaos in Regions Eight and Nine called on Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan to strengthen the porous borders to prevent the illicit trade of drugs and travel.

Toshao Charles of Kanapang related that the community’s access road is being used to smuggle illegal substances and is being heavily damaged by miners. “But I need more counselling from the ministry on what should be done for such issues,” Charles pointed out even as he asked for the capacities of Rural Constables in his community to be augmented.

Minister Ramjattan admitted that protecting Guyana’s borders is a difficult task for security forces; stressing that “community intelligence” is important to ensure that illegal activities are identified and prevented.

“We at this stage will do our best and even if we have to use horses as best as possible to help in controlling our border,” Minister Ramjattan told the NTC. He also encouraged the indigenous people to sign up with security forces like the Guyana Police Force and the Guyana Defence Force to help protect the country.

Gun amnesty

Indigenous leaders also implored Minister Ramjattan to hold more gun amnesty so that they can be afforded the

Minister of Public Security, Khemraj Ramjattan addressing the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE.)

opportunity to have their firearms legally registered.

One Toshao shared that there are indigenous people who are wasting away in the legal system because they cannot afford the legal bill after being charged. “Upper Mazaruni Region Seven handed in the most (guns during the last amnesty) and I expect them to be treated well,” another Toshao shared.

Minister Ramjattan told the NTC that his Ministry is hoping to register the weapons of those who submitted during the amnesty but challenges of proper documentation and a broken machine to tag the weapons have been encountered by the security staff.

Minster Ramjattan assured that his Ministry will try to ensure that registration and licencing of firearms for indigenous is completed by the end of the year.

Corrupt police

Toshaos also related their concerns about police officers who are failing to live by the GPF’s serve and protect motto. Aranaputa Toshao, Aiden Jacobus related he had “little trust and confidence” in the police stationed in Annai after allegedly being complacent towards cattle rustlers.

Similar stories were shared of seemingly corrupt police officers in the hinterland who were not protecting indigenous people. Minister Ramjattan stressed to the NTC that currently there is a zero tolerance against corruption in the GPF.

“Every allegation of corruption or police misconduct must be investigated thoroughly for corruption,” Minister Ramjattan said while encouraging the indigenous people “not keep it to yourself, silence is violence”.

Registration issues

Meanwhile, several requests were made to the Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix for increased outreach in hinterland communities to facilitate the registration of births, deaths and marriages.

Minister Felix told the NTC that his ministry “is conscious of the fact that we cannot get to all of you easily” but assured that “we have tried to refine the system to make it simpler so that every birth is registered”.

The Minister has pledged to increase outreaches of these services to hinterland communities even as a series out outreach is lined up for several hinterland regions.

 

By: Tiffny Rhodius

A community leader raising a concern.

One of the community leaders raising a concern at the National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference at the Cyril Potter College of Education (CPCE)

 

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