GTUC urges protection of human rights through constitutional change

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) said that fundamental human rights in Guyana must be respected through urgent constitutional change geared towards guaranteeing inclusion rather than exclusion.

In a press release yesterday, the GTUC said, “The continuous violation of these freedoms, as witnessed in Guyana has produced a state of hopelessness and willful systemic deprivation of those who are perceived not to be supportive of the status quo and not belonging to the same group.”

The GTUC noted that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 10, 1948 is perhaps the single most important universal standard for the safety and security of humankind regardless of race, colour, class, creed, religious, political, or other fundamental differences.

“The post-independence Guyana Constitution enshrines fundamental rights of its citizens. This was a progressive move by a young country demonstrating its clear intention to take Guyana forward, to ensure that the rights of its most valuable resource are protected and treated equally,” the GTUC said.

“It is therefore not for the want of laws to protect human rights that Guyanese have, in recent times, been made to suffer the unprecedented nature and magnitude of indignities, brutality, violence and violations in the history of this country. It is the result of a lack of will to execute and abide by the fundamental tenets of good governance,” the release said.

It said the UN declaration provides a reference point for judging the level of progress and aspirations of developing nations.

“It is often the distinguishing deviation between plural societies with high levels of progressive indicators, peaceful and stable economies and those marred by low levels of social, economic and political indicators of progress such as internal strife and civil wars, economic stagnation, poverty and human misery, high levels of migration, unemployment, state corruption, lack of accountability, disregard for law, and order, with wanton criminality and violence as growing  cultural norms,” the GTUC said.

“In Guyana, we must recommit to the struggle for fundamental human rights, not in a partisan way, but for every citizen of this country. It is only in protecting the rights and freedoms of others that our individual rights become enshrined. It is the only way we can promote national peace, stability and nation-building,” the GTUC said in its release.

“Hope and dignity must be restored for our people and justice must underpin our society. To protect our people and ensure that human rights no longer falls victim to supremacist ideologies, racism and dictatorial tendencies,” it said.

The release said that Guyana requires a new system of governance where all can have equal say in the decision making processes of government and where the separation of the various arms of government is no longer a matter of lip service, but a fundamental tenet of nation building and accountability.

“It is time for every citizen to be a human rights advocate; to advance and protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of fellow Guyanese and to hold government accountable for doing same in keeping with our constitution and the UN Declaration of Human Rights,” the release said.

It said that civic society and the institutions of government must ensure that human rights abuses must end.

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