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Ethnic Relations Commission
66 Peter Rose & Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel. +592-231-6479, 231-6473,
231-6281, 231-6265
Fax: +592-231-6246

September 29, 2009


ERC engages approximately 1000 Guyanese Neighbourhood Conferences

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) on July 27, 2009 commenced a series of Neighbourhood Conferences countrywide with the first five Conferences being done on a Pilot Phase.

The theme of the conferences is ‘Enhancing local capacity for participation in governance and the development of initiatives to resolve conflicts and contribute to community security’; while the specific objectives are;

  • to encourage active participation by community members in the establishment of effective Neighbourhood Democratic Councils,
  • to enable community members to develop the capacity and skills to work together for the good of the community and;
  •  to equip communities with dispute resolution skills.

Today, Tuesday, September 29, 2009, we are conducting the final conference under the second Phase at Lusignan Primary School for residents within the Mon Repos/La Reconnaissance Neighbourhood Democratic Council. This meeting commences at 4:00 pm or 16:00 hrs. 

This will bring the total to 30 meetings. So far Neighbourhood Conferences were held in Regions 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 10. During these Conferences, the ERC interacted with approximately 1000 Guyanese from all ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds.

These conferences are also meant to create a safe space where participants can come together and agree on strategies for overcoming ethnic and other differences and to focus on how best they could contribute to the development of their respective communities and the country as a whole.

The Conference concludes with residents signing a personal pledge giving their commitment to ensuring peaceful communities, where people live in love and unity and where everyone is involved in developing their communities. The ERC also has a Complaints Desk at all of the conferences to be held countrywide.

The recommendations/suggestions and views expressed at all the conferences will be compiled into a report and sent to Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and other local Government bodies within the respective areas to apprise them of  the needs of the communities and those that the residents have prioritized. This will also equip the ERC with answers to deal with the issues that fall within its mandate.

The next phase of the Neighbourhood Conferences will see the ERC visiting 21 Communities between October 19 and November 27 while the Georgetown Municipal Conference is billed for   Monday, November 30, 2009, this will be preceded by a number of activities in the various wards of Georgetown. This will be done by the Public Education and Awareness Unit of the ERC and some 56 wards are targeted. 

Women’s Conferences
The ERC on July 24, 2009 concluded four women’s workshops which were held in Regions Three and Four as part of the Commission’s strategic priorities for the year 2009 and also in keeping with its mandate of Promoting Harmony and Good Relations.

The first workshop was held on July 21, 2009 at the La Chalet Country Club, Soesdyke Linden Highway and attracted approximately 75 participants from several communities along the East Bank Demerara.

The July 22, workshop at the Grand Coastal Inn, Le Resouvenir, East Coast Demerara attracted approximately 95 women from Cummings Lodge to Mahaica while the workshop held on July 23 at the Aracari Resort sought the participation of approximately 75 women from 28 different communities in Region Three.

The final workshop which was on July 24, at the Duke Lodge in Kingston, Georgetown, attracted approximately 44 women from 15 organisations in the capital city. This has brought the total to over 300 women with whom the ERC interacted over a four day period.

The aim of the workshops was to provide a forum where women as nurturers, caregivers and mothers from all fabric of society can come and freely express their thoughts, opinions, and views on issues relative to the Guyanese society and also to make recommendations for the improvement of their communities in this regard. 

It should be noted that when the participants were asked: (a) what kind of Guyana do you desire? (b) What are the obstacles in achieving this? (c)What are your recommendations? All of the answers from across the regions were similar.

“We need a Guyana where everyone respects each other for who they are, where there is tolerance for each other, where there is effective communication, where there is peace, love, harmony and unity amongst all, where every Guyanese is treated equally.”  The women highlighted.

However, the women gave their commitment to playing their role in ensuring peaceful communities where people can live in harmony, working together and are united.

Visits to Regions Eight and Nine

During October 14 through 17 we will be in Regions Eight and Nine for a series of Women’s and Neighbourhood Conferences.

At Region Eight we will be interacting with Women at Paramakatoi, other participants will be drawn from Kato, Madhia, Monkey Mountain and the surrounding communities. In Region Nine, the Commission will meet with women from Annai, Aishalton, St. Ignatius, Lethem, Karasabai and other nearby villages.

Constituency Meetings
On August 3, 2009 the Commission met with members of its various Constituencies, meetings were held with members of the Hindu, Muslim and Christian Constituencies as well as with representatives of Women, Labour, Private Sector, Youth as well Civil Society.

The aim of the meetings were to get feedback on the work of the Commission, to inform them of the current projects the ERC is undertaking, listen to their concerns and determine how best the ERC can assist in their resolution.

The Representatives have all pledged their support to the Commission’s Programmes and urge the ERC to continue the work it was mandated to do by the Constitution of Guyana.

The first meeting was held with 13 representatives of the Hindu community, nine representatives from the Muslim community and 12 women representatives while 20 persons participated in the Christian Constituency meeting, 12 persons from youth organisations, 10 representatives of Labour organisations, nine representatives of the Private Sector and 15 representatives of Civil Society.

During the interaction several issues were discussed and recommendations were made on how to resolve these issues. These were recorded by the Commission and will be followed-up.

Actions coming out on Constituency Meeting

During our interaction with representatives of the Hindu Constituency it was recommended that there be a change on Application Forms to include first name instead of Christian Names (particularly on the Passport Form) to cater for persons who do not have a Christian Name.

The Commission would also like Guyanese to know that the Hindu Constituency also raised the issue of Christian Sermons dominating the Guyana Defense Force’s Inter-Faith Services. The GDF has since been written in this regard.


I would like to inform you that the ERC has appointed three special Rapporteurs to deal with three specific issues:

  •  Why African Rice Farmers in West Coast Berbice are not planting rice but are leasing their rice lands to the East Indian Farmers.
  • To look at Police Operations and processes as it relates to young Afro Guyanese youths particularly in Agricola on the East Bank Demerara to determine if there is racial profiling
  • To determine if the Community of Linden has been discriminated against by the Administration because of its ethnic composition.

ERC welcomes the Swearing-in of other Rights Commission

The ERC would like to publicly acknowledge and welcome the recent swearing in of Commissioners of the various Rights Commissions namely the Rights of the Child Commission and the Women and Gender Equality Commission. The Commission anticipates the formation of the Human Rights Commission and swearing-in of the Indigenous People’s Commission.

The Commission is heartened by the fact that these Commissions are now established, as the ERC had been recommending their formation to the National Assembly over the past five years.

ERC regrets postponement of Local Government Elections

The ERC regrets that the long awaited Local Government Elections are postponed but takes this opportunity to urge all stakeholders to cooperate with the Guyana Elections Commission to speed up the process.

The Commission would also like to encourage participants and all Guyanese to prepare themselves for this process and to move away from any semblance of race-based politics to electing the persons who are competent and capable to get the job done.

Enhancing Ethnic Security and Harmony has always been, and will continue to be the focus of the ERC; on this note we are urging the Security Forces to operate within the context of their Constitutional mandate and always observe best practices and the rule of law.

The Security Forces must recognize that we are living in a sensitive environment and the opinions and concerns of the people must be taken into consideration when formulating their programmes and executing operations.

The Ethnic Relations Commission is a Constitutional, non-political body established by Constitution Amendment (No. 2) Act 11 of 2000, which amends article 212 D of the Constitution to provide for the establishment  of an Ethnic Relations Commission.
Its functions which are set out in Article 212 D of the Constitution are all embracing and divided in twenty four (24) categories which can be further grouped as; Conflict Resolution, Education and Public Awareness and Research and Development Strategies.

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