By Fareeza Haniff
[www.inewsguyana.com] – President of the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG), Peter Persaud, through his lawyers, has filed a $10M lawsuit against the government of Guyana, pertaining to the dismissal of 1,972 Community Support Officers (CSOs).
Court documents seen by iNews revealed that the CSOs are all persons of Amerindian descent, who were employed under the Youth Entrepreneurship and Apprenticeship Programme of the then Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
Representing Persaud is former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, who claims that the dismissal is contrary to Articles 40, 149, 149(A), 149(D) and 149(G) of the Constitution of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, Chapter 1:01, unconstitutional and is against the rules of natural justice.
He claims that it is also discriminatory, capricious, arbitrary, unreasonable and against the legitimate expectation of the persons affected. According to the court document, former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Nigel Dharamlall revealed that the payroll to pay 1,972 of these CSOs was already prepared for payments for the month of April, 2015.
However, after the change of government caused by the General and Regional Elections held on May 11, these payments were withheld and thus far no payment has been made thereof.
It was noted that the CSOs were paid a monthly stipend of $30,000 upon submission of monthly reports validated by the Village Council and or Community Development Officer (CDO).
“These CSOs and their dependents rely upon these monies as a source of their livelihood and the cessation of this revenue flow into the village economy will have devastating consequences upon the Amerindian communities throughout the hinterland. I am informed by the said CSOs and do verily believe that to date, they have not been given a reason for their non-payment nor were they offered an opportunity to respond to any questions and/or concerns regarding the continuation of their engagement and/or employment,” Persaud says in his affidavit.
He believes that the termination of this programme was intentionally done as an act of economic and financial sabotage against the indigenous people of Guyana “driven by a political, ethnic and racial motive.”