Indigenous peoples in Guyana call for strong protections for customary land rights and application of FPIC in timber trade agreement with the EU

In two newly released reports, indigenous leaders point out that the current concession allocations system in Guyana is unjust, severely flawed and facilitated by a national legal framework that does not fully respect their internationally protected rights to their customary lands and resources.

The foreign companies come and they have legal rights and we the people who have been living here all the time do not have legal rights.” [Resident, Kwebanna village]

Action on land rights and FPIC are key to effective forest and climate initiatives - finds new APA and FPP special report on Guyana

Guyana has been a major proponent of international funding for avoided deforestation in tropical countries. In 2009 the government signed an MOU with the Kingdom of Norway under an agreement to reduce deforestation, pursue low carbon (non-fossil fuel) development and enter into negotiations with the EU on a trade treaty under the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative. Almost five years after the signing of this bilateral agreement, how are indigenous peoples’ rights and local benefit sharing issues being addressed in Guyana’s land use, forest and climate policies?

Indigenous Peoples' Rights and Climate Policies in Guyana: a special report


More than four years after the signing of the Guyana-Norway MoU, this special report seeks to assess the quality of treatment of indigenous peoples’ rights in Guyana’s national policies on land, low carbon development and forests. The review draws on extensive community visits and policy analyses conducted by the Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) and the Forest Peoples Programme (FPP) between 2009 and 2013.

Amerindian Peoples Association (APA) Press Release: Concerns with Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF)

On Monday October 21, 2013 the Government of Guyana and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) signed a contract for the Amerindian Land Titling Project under the Guyana/Norway Guyana REDD Investment Fund (GRIF) arrangement. This signing took place during the opening session of the Seventh Annual Meeting of the National Toshaos Council and is heralded by President Donald Ramotar as fulfilling a promise made to the Amerindian people in the PPP’s manifesto. Campaigning? According to another government official Minister of Finance Ashni Singh, the project will give Amerindians control over the lands that belong to them. The project, according to the government is to facilitate the titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands. 

Indigenous peoples’ organisations and international NGOs call for slowdown of Guyana-EU FLEGT process

In April and May 2013 the Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) of Guyana and a consortium of European NGOs, including Forest Peoples Programme, sent letters to the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and the European Commission (EU) respectively, expressing concerns about rushed consultation processes and a lack of meaningful participation by forest dependent communities in the FLEGT process. 

Una organización de pueblos indígenas y varias ONG internacionales piden que se frene el proceso FLEGT de Guyana y la UE

En abril y mayo de 2013 la Asociación de Pueblos Amerindios (APA) de Guyana y un consorcio de ONG europeas, entre las que se incluye el Forest Peoples Programme, enviaron sendas cartas a la Comisión Forestal de Guyana (GFC por sus siglas en inglés) y la Comisión Europea (CE) expresando su inquietud ante los acelerados procesos de consulta y la falta de participación significativa de comunidades que dependen de los bosques en el proceso FLEGT. 

Une organisation de peuples autochtones et des ONG internationales appellent à un ralentissement du processus FLEGT de l’UE au Guyana

En avril et mai 2013, l’Association des peuples amérindiens (APA) du Guyana et un consortium d’ONG européennes, dont le Forest Peoples Programme, ont envoyé des lettres respectivement à la Commission forestière du Guyana (GFC) et à la Commission européenne (UE), qui faisaient part de leurs préoccupations concernant des processus de consultation bâclés et un manque de participation effective des communautés tributaires de la forêt au processus FLEGT. 

Indigenous peoples’ rights violated and traditional lands in Guyana threatened by mining

At the beginning of 2013, indigenous peoples in Guyana are becoming increasingly alarmed over continuing and growing disregard for their legitimate rights by miners and government agencies and gross rights violations which have been endorsed by the judiciary in two recent cases. In 2012, the mining lobby publicly attacked indigenous peoples’ land rights in the Guyanese press and pledged to oppose recognition of customary lands. Meanwhile, the government agency responsible for regulating the mining sector appears to be accelerating the issuance of mining permits and concessions on Amerindian customary lands, despite the fact that these same lands are the subject of legal actions in the courts seeking recognition of traditional ownership rights and/or unresolved village applications for land title and title extensions.

Derechos de los pueblos indígenas violados y tierras tradicionales amenazadas por la minería en Guyana

Al comienzo de 2013 los pueblos indígenas de Guyana se encuentran cada vez más alarmados por el continuo y creciente desprecio de sus derechos legítimos por parte de los mineros y las agencias gubernamentales, y por las flagrantes violaciones de derechos que han sido respaldadas por el poder judicial en dos casos recientes. En 2012, el grupo de presión de la minería atacó públicamente los derechos territoriales de los pueblos indígenas en la prensa guyanesa y prometió oponerse al reconocimiento de las tierras consuetudinarias. Mientras tanto, la agencia gubernamental responsable de regular el sector minero parece estar acelerando la expedición de permisos y la aprobación de concesiones mineras en tierras consuetudinarias amerindias, a pesar de que dichas tierras son objeto de acciones judiciales en los tribunales para que se reconozcan los derechos de propiedad tradicionales y/o de solicitudes pendientes de títulos de propiedad o extensiones de títulos de las comunidades en esas tierras.

L’exploitation minière viole les droits des peuples autochtones et menace les terres traditionnelles au Guyana

Depuis le début de l’année 2013, les peuples autochtones du Guyana sont de plus en plus alarmés par le mépris continu et croissant à l’égard de leurs droits légitimes par les sociétés d’exploitation minière et les institutions gouvernementales, et par les violations flagrantes de leurs droits, approuvées par le pouvoir judiciaire lors de deux cas récents. En 2012, le lobby du secteur minier a attaqué publiquement les droits fonciers des peuples autochtones dans la presse guyanaise et a pris position contre la reconnaissance des terres coutumières. Par ailleurs, l'institution gouvernementale chargée de la réglementation du secteur minier semble accélérer l’octroi de permis et concessions d'exploitation minière sur les terres coutumières amérindiennes, malgré le fait que ces terres fassent l’objet d’actions en justice auprès des tribunaux pour la reconnaissance des droits de propriété traditionnels et/ou de demandes de titres fonciers et d’extensions de titres de villages non résolues.

FPP E-Newsletter February 2013 (PDF Version)

Dear Friends,

Whenever someone remarks that a solution is being frustrated by ‘lack of political will’, I automatically ask myself: whose is the political will and what are the interests pushing for the opposite?