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Facilitating revision process of Amerindian Act 2006

first_imgDear Editor,Contrary to the position taken by the Legal Advisor to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs (MoIPA), David James, at the National Toshaos Conference (NTC) — that MoIPA is unaware of any other consultation happening on revision of the Amerindian Act 2006, the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) would like to clarify that it has in fact been supporting training sessions on the revision of the Act at the district council level, through the Steering Committee for the Revision of the Amerindian Act 2006 (SCRAA).On Thursday, the Legal Department of the MoIPA provided an update on the revision process for the Amerindian Act 2006, which the Government has committed to amending since taking office in 2015.During his presentation, James explained that the Government is currently undertaking cluster consultations in select villages, to gather recommendations on strengthening the 2006 Act.Following his presentation, the attorney-at-law was asked by a toshao to clarify whether separate consultations were being conducted by other indigenous organisations to the knowledge of MoIPA. James responded that he was not aware of any other organisation conducting consultations on the Act.“I am not aware that there are separate consultations from the Government,” said the attorney, while explaining that civil societies and organisations can work with village constituencies to formulate recommendations for the Act.However, the APA would like to recall that, in April, the MoIPA met with the SCRAA, a body comprising of the National Toshaos Council, indigenous organisations, and district councils, to discuss synergies for the implementation of the revision process. Despite commending the Committee for its revision process strategy, which included hosting Amerindian Act training sessions at the District Council meetings to familiarise villages on the Act, the MoIPA decided that it would pursue a revision process separate from the SCRAA.Therefore, James’s claim that he is unaware of any other organisation conducting consultations on the revision of the Amerindian Act, without acknowledging the efforts of indigenous representative bodies aiming to facilitate the process, raises serious questions from the standpoint of the APA.The committee — dedicated to ensuring that villages understand the Amerindian Act 2006 within a legal and human rights framework before submitting their recommendations to the Government — has made a concerted effort to collaborate with the MoIPA as consultations take place.For the month of July, the APA has already supported the revision process of the Amerindian Act 2006 with three training sessions completed in the villages of Santa Rosa, Moruca Sub-District, Region 1; Kako, Upper Mazaruni Sub-District, Region 7; and Kopinang, North Pakaraimas Sub-District, Region 8. These sessions included several other villages from the respective sub-districts. The aim of these sessions was to build communities’ capacity to read and analyse the 2006 legislation, so they could make their own recommendations to the MoIPA for amendments to the Act.So far, the APA, with assistance from SCRAA, has collaborated with the Moruca District Council (Region 1), Upper Mazaruni District Council (Region 7), and North Pakaraimas District Council (Region 8) to conduct these sessions with the help of facilitators from each region who are trained to understand the current Act as well as international and constitutional human rights’ guarantees.Once sessions are completed, villages will make their own recommendations on the revision of the Act, which are expected to be submitted in written form to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs after a team of lawyers has framed the recommendations in legal language. The Committee’s plan is, through collaboration with their District Councils, to ensure that as many indigenous villages and communities as possible are prepared to make recommendations that are informed by actual knowledge of what the current Act says, and what their rights are under international law and the Constitution.Although the MoIPA has already started its consultations separate from the activities of the APA and SCRAA, the Committee is still open to collaborating with the Government to ensure the mutual and just advancement of our indigenous peoples.Sincerely,Amerindian PeoplesAssociationlast_img read more