Resolution of the National Toshaos Conference

Resolution of the National Toshaos Conference

 

Adopted at the National Toshaos Conference, July 2018

Having discussed the concerns of the toshaos and other indigenous community leaders, particularly as relates to our land titles and demarcation, extractive industries and land conflicts, degradation of the environment, health, education, and infrastructure, among other issues;

Recognizing that many of our communities share the same concerns and face similar problems; and

Welcoming the various commitments made by Government Ministers and other officials that they have heard our concerns and will work to find ways to address and resolve them –

The National Toshaos Conference hereby:

  1. Respectfully calls upon His Excellency David E. Granger to work with us, as representatives of our Indigenous Peoples, to ensure the protection, respect for, and fulfillment of our rights as the Indigenous Peoples of Guyana;
  2. Requests that the Amerindian Land Titling Project, the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs (MoIPA), and the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC) provide every Village that is seeking title or extension of title with updated information regarding the status of their application, and expedite the processing and approval of pending applications and inform the villages of the schedule for doing so;
  3. Calls upon the GLSC to implement a policy requiring that every Village is actively involved and participating in demarcation exercises and in land surveys, to ensure that the demarcation and survey is accurate; and that the official government maps show the indigenous names of waterways, mountains, and other landmarks;
  4. Requests that the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) work with us to identify our traditional lands and stop granting mining concessions on our traditional lands, and in particular, those lands which are titled or for which we have applied for title or extension of title;
  5. Calls upon the GGMC to revoke mining concessions that were granted on our traditional lands without our free, prior, and informed consent;
  6. Requests that the GGMC work with the NTC to promptly provide every Village with written information regarding the status of any and all mining concessions on its traditional lands;
  7. Calls upon the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and all other relevant agencies to refrain from signing and finalizing the European Union (EU) Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) agreement until the Amerindian Act has been revised to better protect indigenous rights in Guyana and until other relevant laws, including the Forests Regulations, have been revised, with the effective and meaningful participation of Indigenous Peoples;
  8. Requests that the GFC work with us to identify our traditional lands and provide every Village with written information regarding the status of all forestry concessions on these traditional lands;
  9. Requests that the Environmental Protection Agency engage indigenous communities and enable them to effectively participate in environmental and social impact assessments for projects which will impact them and that the Minister responsible, with our effective participation, drafts and adopts regulations pursuant to Sec. 68(1)(z) of the Environmental Protection Act;
  10. Calls upon the Ministry of Social Protection to investigate complaints and help indigenous workers who are being exploited without pay, even where they were not in a position to negotiate signed contracts with the employers (often, powerful miners and loggers);
  11. Calls upon the Ministry of Health to allocate more resources to improve the health services available to our indigenous communities;
  12. Urges the Ministry of Education to collaborate with indigenous peoples to further develop and implement its indigenous languages initiative and to expand this initiative to encompass all 9 indigenous languages;
  13. Calls upon the Ministry of Education to collaborate with indigenous peoples to develop educational curricula that are pertinent to our communities and that educate other Guyanese about our histories, cultures and rights;
  14. Calls upon the Ministry of Public Infrastructure to provide for the meaningful participation of indigenous communities in making decisions about infrastructure projects that will benefit our peoples;
  15. Calls upon the Ministry of Communities to ensure that our Indigenous communities are fully informed and their free, prior and informed consent is obtained before making any moves to designate them as belonging to Neighborhood Democratic Councils, townships, or any other form of local government;
  16. Endorses the Resolution on the Need for a New Approach to Protected Areas affecting Indigenous Peoples (annexed);
  17. Calls upon the Ministry of Communities and the MoIPA to work, with the consultation and effective participation of the Community Development Councils, to clarify their legal status and enable those who wish to become villages under the Amerindian Act to do so; and
  18. Requests that the Government of Guyana and all State agencies and commission to develop Memoranda of Cooperation with the NTC to establish clear working relationships and mechanisms for communication and sharing information and data.