The Minister of Indigenous Affairs has made no mention of the Amerindian Act

Dear Editor,

It is noticeable that in the published statements that he made since taking office, the Minister of Indigenous Affairs has not once acknowledged the Amer-indian Act 2006. Specifically, he has not bothered to mention actions taken so that his announcement of impromptu elections is not in breach of that law, as it appears to be so far.

His more general comments on the conduct of his ministry do not indicate that he feels obliged to govern under existing written law. As a politician he must know this issue is of public interest, and the new government must publicly declare its policy position regarding the governance of Guyana’s Indigenous people. If the Amerindian Act 2006 is not applicable to present conditions, it must be revised or abolished (and arguments for both have been voiced). Indigenous people are not happy to know there is a law for them that is ignored except when it can be used by central-government functionaries to gain party political advantage.

In stating an intention to depoliticise the National Toshaos’ Council, the Minister has made no reference to the clear provisions for that body in the law, namely the Amerindian Act 2006. If the administration is not guided by written law in regard to the functions of that council, then all it will succeed in doing is to transfer the allegiance of Toshaos from the previous government to the present one. In my opinion, that would continue to betray the intent of the constitution concerning the Guyanese Indigenous people, in contradiction to the coalition’s stated policy to govern by the rule of law.

I would like to bring this danger to the attention of the Minister of Governance and politely ask for a public expression of his views on this particular matter.

Even during this honeymoon period, Editor, we are looking to our Indigenous Minister for some signal that he is thinking about governance issues, if only to fulfil campaign promises.

Yours faithfully,
Patrick Fitzpatrick

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