The National Toshaos Council (NTC) has written to the Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan expressing its great concern about the sedition clause in the Cybercrime Bill and requesting to have an input.
The letter which was sent to Ramjattan yesterday and signed by Toshao Joel Fredericks, Chairman of the NTC, spoke of the “great concern to the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana” of the Bill soon to be adopted by Parliament and the infringement upon their guaranteed Rights.
“It is our understanding that the IT Bill is soon to be adopted by Parliament. While we support protective measures within any law to protect the interest of the Nation, it is the Indigenous Peoples view that the Sedition Clause in the Bill is unwarranted and stands to infringe upon our Rights as guaranteed by Article 146 of Guyana’s Constitution,” the letter stated.
The NTC letter pointed out the constant battle the Indigenous Peoples face to have their Rights recognized, often having to resort to international organisations for support, and the marginalization which the Sedition Clause could befall their people.
“As Indigenous Peoples, we are consistently fighting for our rights to be recognized. This fight, because of the geography of Guyana, sometimes see Indigenous Peoples network to garner support from other international organisations, and by virtue of that support, we often become critical of governments that fail to respect our rights. Most often that discontents first point of public contact is the social domain. By virtue of this Sedition Clause, it criminalizes our peoples and further marginalizes an already marginalized group of people.
“Considering the many infringement on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that occur within Geographical Guyana, it is important to understand and recognize that the Indigenous Peoples will continuously be placed in a position of disadvantage and under this proposed new law stands to be charged by the court,” the letter from the Head of the NTC continued.
Toshao Fredericks further noted that Guyana is a signatory and a donor to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and has ratified the IDB’s Indigenous Peoples Policy. Thus, Guyana is required to engage the Indigenous Peoples’ Leadership on any decision which affects them, and they were not consulted on the issue.
“… Guyana being a donor to the Inter-American Development Bank has signed on to an Indigenous Peoples Policy. By virtue of being a signatory and donor to that institution, the Indigenous Peoples Policy adopted by the bank was subsequently ratified by all donor Countries. In said policy it states under a variety of Articles, that any decision that affects Indigenous Peoples must engage the Indigenous Peoples’ Leadership. I can formally communicate that the Indigenous Leadership, the National Toshaos Council, was not consulted on this issue and are hereby requesting to be given that opportunity to address this proposed piece of legislation,” the letter stated.