PPP to APNU/AFC: Start ensuring that our people’s fundamental rights are honoured

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As the world will celebrate International Human Rights Day 2016, on November 10, the  People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has issued as statement pertaining to Human Rights and their perception of these rights under the leadership of the incumbent, A Partnership for National Unity/ Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC), administration.

See full statement below:

Human rights are not an entitlement or a privilege. They are inalienable fundamental rights of every human being – man, woman or child – and include political, civil, economic, social, and cultural rights. According to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, “Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible”. Whether enshrined in national Constitutions and other legal frameworks or not, human rights remain innate and are not bestowed upon.

The recourse to the international system of justice bequeathed upon individuals was unprecedented and laid the foundation for several similar Protocols to other human rights instruments, which focused on specific issues of international concern.  These include Conventions on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, on the Rights of the Child, on Rights of Migrant Workers, on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Convention against Torture, etc.

It is disconcerting, to say the least, that despite the fact that all independent countries of the world have signed the Charter of the United Nations, and that most of them are signatories to the many human rights conventions mentioned above, widespread violations of fundamental human rights in many parts of our world continue unabated. The most sacrosanct right – the right to life – is being snatched away indiscriminately.  The Middle East has been transformed into a war zone, all in the name of “democracy”. The so-called Islamic State or ISIS, a creature raging out of this chaos, is wreaking havoc on the innocent. Boko Haram is capturing and killing its own Nigerian brothers and sisters, and like ISIS, is subjecting women and girls into sexual slavery, while converting young boys into child soldiers.  Afghanistan is still a “boiling pot” for terrorist attacks on those who dare to challenge the Taliban, but more so, on those who wish to continue living their lives peacefully.

Guyana became a full member of the international community upon gaining independence in 1966, and has since signed and ratified numerous International Conventions and Treaties, including those pertaining to the protection of human rights.  In the 1990s, Guyana became one of the 115 member states that ratified the Optional Protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.  This was no light gesture, as the Protocol allows for individual citizens to take to task the government of the day by lodging a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee if they feel that their rights have been or are being violated.

With the coming to power of the APNU/AFC coalition in May 2015, the human rights of Guyanese citizens are being shunned and flayed with every passing day.  The upsurge in gun-related crimes has made mockery of the most fundamental of all rights – the right to life.  Guyanese are being subjected to the whims and fancies of trigger-happy criminals, many of whom are youths, and lives are indiscriminately taken.  The perpetrators of the Lusignan and Bartica massacres have been praised by the then opposition (now in government) as “freedom fighters”.  Our right to “freedom from fear” as enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is being trampled upon by criminals who are emboldened by indiscriminate pardons and encouraging rhetoric such as “awe time now”.

The inability of, or more accurately put, the lack of attempt by the authorities to curb domestic violence, and violence against women and children, is nothing else but gross negligence.  It represents an attitudinal behaviour demeaning to more than one-half of our population.

The whole slate of dismissals of persons perceived to be supporters of the PPP/C administration and the thousands of young Amerindians by the current regime since its assumption to high office reeks of political and racial discrimination – another blatant violation of our fundamental human rights – the right to work and to be treated as equals.  The numerous of Commissions of Inquiry set up by the Granger regime are tantamount to political witch-hunting, while the recent attempt to usurp property owned by private citizens is in direct contravention of our Constitution, which enshrines our fundamental right to own property.

The forceful removal of vendors from various parts of the city without providing alternatives, as well as the planned closure of the sugar industry, demonstrates a lack of care and concern for thousands of our people, who are trying to eke out a living.  Condoning such thoughtless acts is a reflection of the incompetence and cluelessness of the APNU-AFC administration as to the multiplier effect such moves have on especially those living poverty and on the fringes of society.  People are forced to engage in various types of illegal activities and other social ills, such as stealing, begging, prostitution and child labour, just to mention a few.

The Peoples’ Progressive Party, on the occasion of International Human Rights Day, December 10, vehemently condemns all actions that violate human rights and human dignity.  It calls on all perpetrators to desist from committing heinous crimes against other human beings, to exercise restraint and to treat others as equals.  The PPP also calls on the APNU/AFC administration to stop the witch-hunting, and the cheap and defensive political rhetoric, and to start focusing on ensuring that our people’s fundamental right to “freedom from fear” and “freedom from want” are honoured.  The recent budget presentation tells us we should expect more breaches of the Guyanese People fundamental economic, cultural and social rights.

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