Gov’t urges probe of alleged death threats to APA head

Government says that it believes allegations of death threats against Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) President Tony James are “extremely serious” and it will fully support police investigations.

In a statement issued by the Government Information Agency (GINA) yesterday, the government said that it has been made aware of an international communication from the APA describing allegations of a death threat against James. Saying that it believes that this is an extremely serious allegation, the government said that it must be investigated fully. James, like all citizens of Guyana, is entitled to access to the full protection afforded by the laws of this country, it said. “As the necessary first step in accessing that protection, we hope that Mr. James will shortly communicate his allegations to the Guyana police. Once he does this, the Government will fully support the police in their efforts to pursue the evidence brought forward by Mr. James,” the statement said.

The APA’s Project Manager Jean La Rose recently said that while James had been “warned’ previously, the latest threats have left him extremely concerned about his own safety as well as that of his family. She said that other persons in the APA had also been warned.

La Rose, however, did not directly link the threats to the group’s call for greater protection of Amerindian land rights, saying that she could not assume the reasons. She did note, however, that there had been “a build up” to the latest threats.

The government statement also noted the APA’s suggestion that James’ allegations might be somehow related to the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and Guyana’s Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation-plus (REDD+) initiative.

According to the statement, although invited, the APA refused to participate in the multi-stakeholder committee and the government recognises their right to not take part in consultations and other REDD+ related activities.

It said that the government welcomes differing views from official positions as expressed by non-governmental organisations such as the APA and this is evident from the publicly available records of meetings and consultations as part of the LCDS process.

“The police should follow the evidence. Once this is done, the government will fully support the police in their efforts to fully investigate all the evidence concerning these allegations,” the statement said.

It added that Guyana is proud of the supremacy of the rule of law here and of work to secure the realization of rights for indigenous people.

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