Thursday, January 31, 2013

Landmark Ruling Against Indigenous Title in Guyana

The High Court of Guyana has controversially ruled in support of a mining concession on titled Indigenous lands, setting a dangerous precedent for the already marginalised Indigenous communities of Guyana. The case was brought by residents of Isseneru village who received title over the land in 2007 in terms of the Amerindian Act of 2006. The court held that as the mining permits were received before the Act came into operation they were not bound by its provisions. 

In a press statement, the Isseneru Village Council stated that they are “deeply disappointed and worried with this ruling and what it means to our village and to Amerindian communities in general. On the ground it has serious environmental and social impacts for us. The miners have, for example, brought with them problems related to drugs and prostitution. At the higher level, we feel that when the High Court tells us that we have no rights to decide and control what takes place on our land, then the land is not ours.…Just Friday, when inquiring at the office of the GGMC [Guyana Geology and Mines Commission], we learnt that our whole land is covered with mining concessions. Yet, the government has not informed us about this.” 

Find out more through the Forest Peoples’ Programme press statement in English here and in Spanish here. The Isseneru Village Council press statement can be accessed here

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