IACHR’s visit to bring Guyana’s policies up to date with latest human rights standards

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Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, who is performing the functions of President, met with a visiting delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), on Tuesday at the Office of the Prime Minister on Camp Street, Georgetown

Prime Minister, Brigadier (Ret’d), Mark Phillips, who is performing the functions of President, met with a visiting delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), on Tuesday at the Office of the Prime Minister on Camp Street.

The IACHR representatives were led by President, Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay and included Second Vice-President Commissioner Roberta Clarke; Senior Advisor, Caribbean Affairs, Paul Spencer; Specialist (Technical Cooperation and Public Policies), Wendy Singh, and Press and Communications Official, Ana Paula Suarez.

In briefing the Acting Head of State on their visit, Commissioner Macaulay outlined that the visit represents a vital element of the IACHR’s regional engagement approach initiated in January 2023. Since then, the Commission has pursued technical cooperation trips focused on best practices and evaluating human rights challenges from governmental and civil society lenses. The objectives are to establish cooperation agreements, prioritise ratifying rights instruments and deliver training on the Inter-American framework.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Phillips underscored Guyana’s constitutional commitments to safeguarding the rights of all citizens equally. He stated: “I can assure you that we have a constitution – the Guyana Constitution – and enshrined in our constitution is the respect for rights of all majorities and minorities in the Guyanese society.

“As a Government, we practice no acts of discrimination”.

The Prime Minister outlined the administration’s comprehensive policies and strategies pertaining to the foundational pillars of inclusiveness and non-discrimination across all rights.

This encompasses indigenous peoples’ rights, protections for the elderly and persons living with disabilities among other minority and majority groups.

“So, we have respect for human rights, respect for the rule of law, both international law and laws indigenous to Guyana. Inclusivity is very important.

We have a country of six different ethnic groups, so, the whole issue of being inclusive is important to us. Our Government, in our manifesto, we made it clear that once we win this election, we don’t care who you voted for, we are bringing development to everyone, every community.”

Emphasis was also placed on the Government’s prioritisation of three key policy areas – climate security, energy security and food security.

On climate security, he stressed Guyana’s acute vulnerability to intensifying climate change impacts and the resultant need to boost resilience and preparedness capabilities. Accessing climate adaptation funding was also raised as essential for infrastructure hardening and community readiness systems.

Regarding energy security, the Prime Minister noted balanced policy goals aligned with both energy security and climate security interests. This includes working towards 60% renewable energy integration by 2030, alongside the utilisation of natural gas as a transitional fuel source.

On food security, he said Guyanese strive to become the leader in food security in the region with its increase in production and productivity for sustainability. He also noted the regional challenges related to food security and CARICOM’s effort to decrease food imports by 25% by 2025. Domestically, a hunger-free population was listed as a key human rights aim underpinning the country’s central food security policy ambitions.

He also discussed the policies and efforts to bridge the divide of Information Communication Technology with education and e-health.

The Acting President stated that the IACHR’s visit will galvanise accelerated progress across the outlined areas to bring Guyana’s institutions and policies up to date with the latest human rights standards and best practices.

The broader IACHR delegation engagements in Guyana will run from November 28 to December 1.

Additionally, Dr Christopher Arif Bulkan will soon become the first Guyanese member appointed to the IACHR in January 2024.