Chinese Landing urges gov’t to swiftly implement IACHR’s recommendations

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

The Chinese Landing Village Council has called on the government to swiftly implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Precautionary Measures.

Full statement below:

Chinese Landing Village Council calls upon the Government of Guyana to engage with the village in good faith to implement the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in Precautionary Measures No. 196-23. News releases in January this year reported that the Government of Guyana had asked the Inter-American Commission to withdraw the precautionary measures granted in favour of Chinese Landing Village. We have not to date seen any indication that this request was granted.

In fact, we and the Government have recently received a letter from the Commission indicating that it will continue to monitor the implementation of the precautionary measures.

We have asked for the Commission’s support to urge the Government to work with us to implement the precautionary measures. Specifically, we have asked the Commission to support our requests to the Government to: (1) remove all weapons from the mining concessions inside our titled lands; (2) ensure that there are independent police and mines officers stationed to address complaints of legal or rights violations in the village; (3) revoke the concessions held by Mr. Vieira inside our titled lands – or at a minimum, to let the Court of Appeal know that it agrees to our motion for an expedited hearing in our case seeking to clarify the land rights at issue; and (4) to lift the ban on our villagers’ own small mining, as this ban is negatively affecting our livelihoods and has no apparent connection to the reason for the precautionary measures.

Since August last year, we have not heard further from any Government team about the implementation of the precautionary measures. The team that visited in August told us that they were only there to look at one of the Commission’s three recommendations. The Commission’s other recommendations require the Government to consult and agree with us on the necessary measures to take to protect our rights. The Government has not done this.

In August, the Government banned all mining inside Chinese Landing’s titled lands. We are unclear on what legal basis the Government has done this. While we agree that banning outside mining is connected to the reason the precautionary measures were granted, this ban has not actually caused the miners and their weapons to be removed from our lands. They instead appear to remain, waiting for the ban to be lifted.

In just the past couple of weeks, it appears that shelving of a hill at Tassawini has re-started and excavation is about to start up again.

In the meantime, the ban on our villagers’ small mining is cutting off an important source of livelihood. Mining has traditionally been the primary form of cash income for our village, which we rely upon to send our children to school or to be able to travel by boat to access any services, such as health services, outside our village. It is unclear to us how stopping our villagers from earning a livelihood will help address the risks we face from these outside miners on our lands. We have asked the Government in several letters to explain the legal basis for this ban. We have not received any responses.

We hope the Government will respond to our requests for more information, as well as to re-engage with us to agree upon a plan to implement the Commission’s recommendations in these precautionary measures.