ERC set to probe whether discrimination, racial profiling exists in Linden, West Berbice and Agricola

The Ethnic Relations Com-mission (ERC) yesterday said that it has appointed three special rapporteurs to deal with three issues including the determination of whether Linden has been discriminated against by the government because of its ethnic composition.

According to a press statement from the ERC, the rapporteurs will also ascertain why African rice farmers in West Coast Berbice are not planting or leasing their lands to East Indian farmers and will examine police operations and processes as they relate to African Guyanese youth, particularly in Agricola, East Bank Demerara to determine if there is racial profiling.

The commission did not say how it would treat with the findings of the rapporteurs.

The commission said that enhancing ethnic security and harmony has always been and will continue to be its focus and as such it urged the security forces to operate within the context of their constitutional mandate and always observe best practices and the rule of law.

“The security forces must recognise that we are living in a sensitive environment and the opinions and concerns of the people must be taken into consideration when formulating their programmes and executing operations,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the ERC said it regrets that the long awaited local government elections have been postponed and urged all stakeholders to cooperate with the Guyana Elections Commission to speed up the process. Guyanese were told to prepare themselves for the election process and to move away from any semblance of race-based politics to electing the persons who are competent and capable to get the job done.

Last month the commission met members of its various constituencies — Hindu, Muslim and Christian, representatives of women, labour, private sector, youth and civil society.

The meetings were aimed at getting feedback on work of the commission, to inform constituents of the current projects of the ERC, listen to their concerns and determine how best the ERC can assist with resolutions.

According to the statement, Hindu constituents recommended that there be a change on application forms from ‘Christian name’ to ‘first name’ (particularly on passport forms) to cater for persons who do not have a Christian name. They also raise d the issue of Christian sermons dominating the Guyana Defence Force’s (GDF) inter-faith services. The GDF has since been written to on the issue.

The ERC also held several neighbourhood conferences throughout the country and the recommendations/ suggestions and views expressed will be complied into a report and sent to the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and other local government bodies within the respective areas to apprise them of the needs of the communities and those that the residents prioritised.  It is expected that the ERC would then be provided with answers to deal with issues that fall within its mandate.

The next phase of the conferences will see the ERC visiting 21 communities between October 19 and November 27.

The Georgetown municipal conference is billed for November 30 and would be preceded by a number of activities in the various wards of Georgetown.

Four workshops were held with women in different parts of the country, which were all aimed at providing a forum where women could freely express their views on issues relative to the Guyanese society and also to make recommendations for the improvement of their communities in this regard.

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