GHRA elects third co-president, five new members

The Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) re-elected Sharon Atkinson and Mike McCormack as co-presidents at its annual general meeting on Saturday last and added a third co-president, hydraulics engineer Charles Sohan.

A press release from the GHRA yesterday also stated that the association’s 22 AGM saw the adoption of four resolutions dealing with citizenship and local government, consultation on the future of coastal areas, the Sexual Offences Task Force and the restructuring of the Guyana Broadcast Authority.

According to the press release, five new members were also added to the executive committee: Sherwyn Blackman, secondary school teacher, Region 2; Njuma Nelson, chemist/analyst, Region 10; and Kerry-Anne Cort, data analyst; Natasha George, data analyst and Cecil Morris, disabilities activist all from Region 4. Former committee members Fiona Johnny, nurse midwife/nurse anaesthetist, Region 9; Michelle Kalamandeen, university lecturer/environmental activist, Region 4 and Dharmadai Ramjit, community worker/women’s activist, Region 2.

Meanwhile, outgoing committee members Rinaldo Lancaster, Norris Witter, Vidushi Persaud, Kenneth Joseph and Julie Lewis were thanked for their service over the years.

The returning officer at the elections was university lecturer Alim Hosein.

The release stated that the first resolution saw GHRA resolving through its membership of the Facing the Future (FtF) coalition, to assign priority to promoting the initiative ‘What it means to be a citizen’. This is in response to “the confrontational culture of parliamentary politics at national level and the corrupt and inefficient character of local government structures; …widespread community dissatisfaction with local government structures and performance; …the weak impact of civil society on the political culture; …the low priority assigned to education for citizenship in the formal curricula; [and cognisant] of the opportunities presented by local government elections for reinvigorating community influence over political life.”

In an awareness of global warming and the impact this could have on Guyana’s coastland and cognisant of failing drainage systems as well as drainage being sacrificed to huge building efforts, among other things, the GHRA has resolved to promote a national consultation involving communities on the future of the Guyana coastlands.

The third resolution sees the GHRA resolving to give priority attention to the effective functioning of the Sexual Offences Task Force (SOTF) in view of the fact that violence currently experienced by women in Guyana in all its forms has reached pandemic proportions and that there has so far been a failure to implement the SOTF, which is pivotal to the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.

GHRA also resolved to call for the creation of “a Special Parliamentary Committee to amend the appointment, procedures and powers of the Broadcast Authority, in keeping with principles of impartiality, fairness and competence”.

This is in the light of “the unconstitutional direct control exercised by the government over the state media and the extensive indirect control over the private media” through the Guyana Broadcast Authority.

This resolution also pointed to the “granting of a licence to the government of China for a 24-hour TV channel while local applicants have been waiting for years”; and “the prolonged failure to make private TV services available to the mining community of Linden”.

The release noted that the AGM was attended by members from region 1, 2, 3, 4, 9 and 10.

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