24 April 2006

"Canada": The Name of an Invasion

Assaulting Mohawks on their Land

On April 20, 2006, near Caledonia, Ontario, a force of heavily armed police invaded lands belonging to the Six Nations Mohawks who were peacefully demonstrating in defense of their legal land rights and against the invasion of a private company, Henco Industries, which claimed to have legally purchased the land in order to build another tribute to Western civilization: 250 condominiums at Douglas Creek Estates. Faced with unarmed prostesters, police pointed automatic assault rifles mere inches from the faces of the prostesters.
For weeks prior to this assault, Mohawk spokespersons had warned of this possibility, given their intimate knowledge of how different arms of the state are quick to respond with violence against any demonstration by First Nations in Canada. The Montreal Gazette, in a shameless editorial of April 21, was quick to denounce not the use of illegitimate and immoral force by the state, but the Six Nations demonstrators who were occupying their own lands. Likening the traditional owners of the land to thugs and criminals, the "newspaper," owned by one of Canada's largest media congolmerates, did not hesitate to proclaim the Mohawk hold on their own lands as illegal, and also complained about the overly generous nature of court judgments on native land title cases, when it is widely acknowledged that such cases, when successful, are resolved in a little over a generation, at the soonest.

On behalf of the members of the editorial board of the Caribbean Amerindian Centrelink (www.centrelink.org), a small working group of indigenous and non-indigenous scholars and activists, I am writing to express our unqualified support for the Six Nations demonstrators protecting their lands in Caledonia, Ontario, and to ensure that we help to get the word out, further afield, amongst our Caribbean and Central American partners, so that the world is reminded of the anti-indigenous injustices perpetrated by a Canadian state which still seems intent on conquering indigenous territory on the behalf of capitalist corporate interests.

It is not with shock or surpise, but grief, that we witness the forces arrayed against the Six Nations: the forces of state-sanctioned violence, media disinformation, internal collaborators and racist attitudes that continue to be exhibited by both the Euro-Canadian residents of Caledonia and, unfortunately, across Canada. It seems that many of the colonial residents have resented the Mohawk presence as a nuisance--"the Indians are in our way", "they ['the Indians'] are disrupting our lifestyle" (this is a statement rich in ironies), or, "this needs to be over", without bothering to reflect for a moment on the foundations or effects of their presence in someone else's home.

The land in question (a question more for the imperial authorities) belongs to the Mohawks. They never "lost" it and they never gave it up. As they have explained time and again, this land is under the protection and jurisdiction of the women, according to Wampum #44 of the Kaianereh'ko:wa. The Women, hold the land in trust for their future generations. No alienation is legally valid. They filed this objection with the Crown and others. Moreover, the British Crown made a commitment to the Mohawks in 1784 when General Haldimand promised to protect their right to occupy a stretch of land for six miles wide on both sides of the Grand River from its mouth to its source. This includes 800 square miles of every body of water within the Beaver Hunting Grounds for natives to hunt, fish, trap and collect medicines for all time to come. Since then the British government and its colonial agents did not keep their word. Most of their land has been stolen through illegal transfers and squatting.

This is a situation that is all too familiar, and painful, to many indigenous communities in the Caribbean who retain not a stitch of land to which they have recognized rights. As a direct descendant of Caribbean slaves, who should be painfully aware of the miseries wrought by oppressive colonial regimes, the Governor General of Canada, Michaelle Jean, should be speaking out on this issue forcefully. As a Haitian, and official head of state of Canada, chief representative of the British Crown which was party to the original commitment of 1784, her continued silence on this issue shows moral weakness and an abdication of legal responsibility. When the Canadian fish starts to rot from the head down, nobody should complain about the stink that ensues.

We would like to affirm our support for the courage of the Six Nations in defending their territory against further armed and illegal invasion. We call on the Canadian state, at all levels, to avoid any further violent assaults. As for corporate and other squatters, we ask that they withdraw from indigenous territory. To those Canadian citizens who continue complaining about, ridiculing, and insulting the traditional owners of the land on which they erected their homes, we pray that they will achieve their own decolonization and reformation before it is too late. We are all watching and we all have long memories.

Readers, please send your objections to: Henco Industries Ltd., Fax (519) 442-3461; City of
Brantford: Fax (519) 759-7840 mhancock@brantford.ca; Corporation of Haldimand County: Fax (905) 772-2148 mayor@haldimandcounty.on.ca; Oxford County info@city.woodstock.on.ca; Onondaga: Customer Service Fax (519) 758-1619; South Dumfries: Customer Service Fax (519) 448-3105; Dufferin County: Fax (519) 941-2816 warden@dufferincounty.on.ca; Kent County, Michigan: Mike Cox, Attorney General Fax: (517) 373-3042; Waterloo: sken@region.waterloo.on.ca; Innisfil: bjackson@barint.on.ca; Attorney General: Fax (416) 326-4007 Media Relations Brendan.Crawley@jus.gov.on.ca ; Governor General: Michaelle Jean Fax (613) 998-1664 E-mail: info@gg.ca; Chinese Consulate in Toronto Fax: (416) 324-6468; Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, Buckingham Palace; Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty Dalton.McGuinty@premier.gov.on.ca; Canadian Prime Minister Hon. Stephen Harper, pm@pm.gc.ca.

For more information, and to receive regular updates on the situation, contact:
Kahentinetha Horn
MNN Mohawk Nation News

New Book on the Amerindians of French Guiana

Editions Chandeigne
10 rue Tournefort – 75005 - Paris
Tél : 01 43 36 34 37 - Fax. : 01 43 36 78 47
sortie le 14 avril 2006

Journal du père Jean de la Mousse en Guyane (1684-1691)
Introduction, transcription & notes de Gérard Collomb

Le père jésuite Jean de la Mousse arrive à Cayenne en 1684 comme missionnaire, quelques décennies après l’installation définitive des Français en Guyane. Pendant une dizaine d’années, il parcourt les villages sur la côte pour entreprendre l’évangélisation des « Sauvages », dont il apprend la langue. Chargé de la conversion des esclaves africains de l’île de Cayenne, il est le témoin de la naissance d’une colonie qui prend forme sous ses yeux. Avec lui s’ouvre véritablement en Guyane l’entreprise missionnaire jésuite auprès des Noirs et surtout auprès des Indigènes, qui se développera quelques années après sa mort avec la création des missions de Kourou et de Sinnamary. Son Journal, qui relate également le voyage qu’il effectue aux Antilles et aux îles du Cap-Vert, est aussi un regard inédit sur l’histoire de la traite des esclaves, objet d’une concurrence entre les puissances coloniales européennes.

Collection Magellane – 320 p., 25 € - isbn : 2-915540-09-8
diffusion & distribution : Belles Lettres
Editions Chandeigne
10 rue Tournefort – 75005 - Paris
Tél : 01 43 36 34 37 - Fax. : 01 43 36 78 47
sortie le 14 avril 2006

Le père jésuite Jean de la Mousse est né le 30 novembre 1650, d’une vieille famille de la petite noblesse bourbonnaise.. Il est ordonné prêtre en 1682, puis part pour Cayenne en 1684 comme missionnaire, quelques décennies après l’installation définitive des Français. Il séjournera en Guyane pendant une quinzaine d’années. Il revient en France en 1698, malade, et meurt au collège jésuite de Moulins le 3 février 1699, âgé de quarante huit ans.

Pendant une dizaine d’années, il parcourt les villages sur la côte de Guyane pour entreprendre l’évangélisation des « Sauvages », dont il apprend la langue. Chargé de la conversion des esclaves africains de l’île de Cayenne, il est le témoin de la naissance d’une colonie : avec lui s’ouvre véritablement en Guyane l’entreprise missionnaire jésuite auprès des Noirs et surtout auprès des Indigènes, qui se développera quelques années après sa mort avec la création des missions de Kourou et de Sinnamary.

Son Journal, qui relate également le voyage qu’il effectue aux Antilles et aux îles du Cap-Vert, est aussi un regard inédit sur l’histoire de la traite des esclaves, objet d’une concurrence entre les puissances coloniales.

Jean de la Mousse a été un fin observateur du monde amérindien dans lequel, peu à peu, il lui a fallu apprendre à vivre, et sur lequel il a jeté un regard sensible, curieux. Nombre de ses observations sur la culture Galibi, tout comme celles que livrent à la même époque un Antoine Biet (1664) ou un Jean Chrétien (1718), sont proches des ethnographies plus récentes. Elles apportent un éclairage passionnant sur un univers indigène encore peu éloigné du monde précolombien, qui est certes déjà profondément marqué par l’Europe et par le fait colonial mais qui ne s’est véritablement transformé que brutalement et, somme toute, assez récemment.

Bien différent des textes calibrés et convenus des Lettres édifiantes et curieuses qui accueilleront au XVIIIe siècle les écrits d’autres pères de Guyane, le récit de Jean de la Mousse, dont nous proposons ici la première édition, est un témoignage qui fait droit à l’émotion et à une soif de connaître véritablement moderne, dessinant l’image d’un humaniste qui excuse plus qu’il ne condamne, et qui s’efforce de comprendre plus qu’il ne juge.

Gérard Collomb est anthropologue, membre de l'équipe Enseignement et Recherche en Ethnologie Amérindienne du CNRS. Depuis plusieurs années, il conduit des recherches sur l'histoire des sociétés amérindiennes des Guyanes, et sur les transformations sociales, culturelles, politiques dans lesquelles elles sont aujourd'hui entraînées. Il a publié de nombreux articles, notamment dans le Journal de la Société des Américanistes, Recherches amérindiennes au Québec, Ethnologie Française et Socio-Anthropologie. Il est l'auteur, avec Félix Tiouka, de Na'na Kali'na, Une histoire des amérindiens kali'na en Guyane, paru en 2000 aux Editions Ibis Rouge.

New Book on Taino Culture

From Sebastián Robiou-Lamarche:

Me permito informarle la publicación de mi libro Mitología y Religión de los Taínos (ISBN 0-9746236-4-4, 100 + xiv p., ilustrado) con presentación del Dr. José Juan Arrom. $20.00 con gastos de envio a USA. El libro comienza a circular en Puerto Rico. Agradecemos su difusión.

Sebastián Robiou-Lamarche,
Editorial Punto y Coma,
P.O. 19802,
San Juan,
Puerto Rico,

Dr. Roi Kwabena: Indigenous and African Heritages

Introducing you to a friend of the CAC:
Dr. Roi Ankhkara Kwabena was born in the Caribbean island of Trinidad. He is a cultural anthropologist who has worked with all age ranges in Europe, Africa, Latin-America and the Caribbean for over thirty years. His positive cultural advocacy has engaged him in a variety of specialist projects addressing wide ranging issues such as functional and cultural literacy, therapeutic harvesting of memories by elders and young people (including cross generational dialogue) anti-racism, community cohesion, social inclusion, cultural diversity, redefining the heritages of indigenous peoples plus confidence building for prisoners, excluded and traumatized students, refugees, etc. Dr. Kwabena is renown for using critical analysis to examine the historical roots of racism and to assess the direct relevance this has on our lives today. Dr. Kwabena is also the editor of the journal Dialogue. That journal specifically addresses issues relating to indigenous cultures and their impact on the post modern world. He maintains a varierty of websites which can be found at:

13 April 2006

Dominica: More on the Dissolution of the Carib Council

According to an item posted by the Dominica Broadcasting Service on Dominica's news website at http://www.news-dominica.com/flashnews/datelistqry.cfm, dated 12 April 2006, the Government of Dominica has also announced the cancellation of elections for the Carib Council:

"Govt. have announced that there will be no new elections for the Carib Council. This after previously saying there would be elections after Carnival. There has been a long-standing dispute within the Council. Source: DBS Radio."

While the legality, not to mention the necessity, in making such a decision is open to question, we are at least able to address a question posed in an earlier post concerning the legality of the Government's dissolution of the Carib Council (ref: http://cacreview.blogspot.com/2006/04/dominica-government-overthrows-carib.html).

The following extract from the Carib Reserve Act of 1978 was provided by Arthur Einhorn:


(1) If the Council in the judgement of the Minister, persistently makes default in the performance of the duties by law imposed upon it, or exceed or abuse powers, it shall be lawful for the Minister, by an order published in the Gazette, to dissolve such Council.

(2) In the case of such dissolution, the following consequences shall ensue----

(a) all members of the Council shall, from the date of such order, vacate their offices as such members;

(b) all the powers and duties of the Council shall, until the constitution of a new Council under this Act, be exercised and performed by such person or persons as the Minister may appoint in that behalf, and any payment made to such person or persons for his or their services shall be a charge upon the Reserve fund;

(c) all property vested in the Council shall, during the period aforesaid, vest in the person or persons aforesaid until the constitution of a new Council, whereupon all such property shall again become vested in the Council.

(3) No order for dissolution as aforesaid shall be valid unless in such order provision is made for the constitution under this Act of a new Council in lieu of the Council so dissolved within a period not exceeding four weeks from the date of such order.

Item 92

In the case of the dissolution of the Council under the last preceeding section the Minister may appoint a collector of rates (local taxes), who shall have all the powers and dutie conferred and imposed by this Act upon the Council or the Clerk.

Another site, http://da-academy.org/caribhist.html#legal, has posted a summary of the main points of the Carib Reserve Act, amongst these are the following:
  • The Carib chief holds office for approximately 5 years unless he or she resigns of his or her own accord or is removed from office.
  • The Chief may be removed from office before his or her term comes to an end, if (a) he or she steals property which comes under his or her control because of the office of Chief, (b) he or she is convicted of so doing, (c) the Carib Council has passed a vote of “No confidence” in him or her, (d) he or she becomes a bankrupt, or (e) approximately 5 years have passed since he or she was elected to office.
  • An Acting Chief may be appointed by the Prime Minister based on the advice of the Chief to perform the duties of Chief, when the Office of Chief is vacant or the Chief is out of State or the Chief is unable for one reason or the other to carry out his or her functions.

Of course, without more detailed information concerning the events leading to the dissolution of the Council, it is very difficult to ascertain whether the law was respected, or applied prematurely and heavy-handedly.

The cancellation of elections, as stated in the item above, may prove far more serious.

In either case, it seems clearer that the Carib Council possesses only minimal if not symbolic autonomy.

10 April 2006

"Developing" the Carib People of Dominica?

As readers will have seen in the previous post at http://cacreview.blogspot.com/2006/04/carib-cultural-village-opens-in.html, the Government of Dominica seems to have developed an instrumentalist and top-down view of the "role" to be performed by the indigenous population of Dominica. Added to the Government's recent overthrow of the elected Carib Chief, this seems to be more than just distant conjecture.

It seems clearer now that the Government desires to not only politically control the Carib population--a Government embarrassed internationally by Chief Williams' campaign to denounce the entry of Disney onto Carib soil in a venture that would feature Caribs, once again, in a colonial light as mindless cannibals--but the Government also clearly wishes to use the Caribs as an economic tool. The Caribs seem to be slotted as mere window dressing in a professed strategy of developmentalist diversification, thus reduced to playthings for foreign tourists, and reduced to "resources" in the calculations of economists.

This is not an unusual strategy for any government that has inherited and upheld the colonial heritage at the basis of the putatively independent state. "Recognition" and "celebration" of the Carib presence, by a variety of contemporary Caribbean states, are tactics revealed in the light of day as instruments of control and containment. While on the one hand they are useful for countering outmoded assertions of extinction, on the other hand they are equally useful for ensuring the centrality of the state as a legitimate arbiter of authorized identifications.

Unfortunately, if established and recognizable historical patterns are anything to go by, one will find a few indigenous collaborators who are willing to suck up to those in power and who hunger after the tourist dollar. What is lost in the process is consciousness of how the "development" process often is a mere gloss for older campaigns once referred to by terms such as "civilization" and "assimilation." Obedience to both capital and the state may appear to be a tactic of survival, at least in the short-term; in the long-term, it is nothing but negotiated surrender. One is reminded here of Peter Tosh's famous line, "peace is the diploma you get in the cemetery."

Dominica Government Overthrows Carib Chief

The following story was reported on Friday, March 17, 2006, in Trinidad's Newsday newspaper. It was headlined," Dominica Fires Carib Chief," the report itself follows below:


"A rift between the Carib Indian chief and the group's six-member council forced Dominica's government to dissolve the leadership body for the largest indigenous population in the Caribbean, an official said.

"The government's move came after months of infighting between Carib chief Charles Williams and the council following Williams' dismissal of two councillors, said John Fountain, the government commissioner who oversees the island's northeast where the Caribs live. Kent Auguiste, who was on the disbanded council, said that Williams acted as a "dictator" and made decisions contrary to their rulings. Williams said the council never wanted him to be chief and that his removal by the government one week ago was "illegal."

"The Dominican Government has appointed Garnette Joseph, who Williams beat during the 2004 election, to act as chief until a vote can be held to elect a new leader and council. About 3,000 Caribs live in Dominica, the only Caribbean nation to have a remaining Carib community [CAC editor: note to our readers, this statement is clearly erroneous, and like the statement above about the largest indigenous population to be found in the Caribbean being in Dominica, there is no incontrovertible evidence to back that assertion.]

"Caribs live and have collective property rights in rural communities in the island's northeast."

  1. What is the legal authority for the Dominica Government's overthrow of the Chief?
  2. What role did Carib Councillors play in seeking the intervention of the state?
  3. Why could this division not be resolved by Caribs themselves?
  4. What will the councillors do if the Carib electorate re-elects Charles Williams?
  5. Does this have anything to do with the fallout from the filiming in Dominica of "Pirates of the Caribbean 2" which alllegedly features scenes of Carib cannibalism, which Williams opposed and which some of the councillors supported?
  6. What precedents are set here in terms of (further) loss of Carib autonomy?
  7. What is the proper division of authority as set out by the constitution of the Carib Council?

More on Dominica's Carib Cultural Village...

More news coverage is available at:

Calls to Change Dominica's Name

DOMINICA: Change country's name, say Rastas
published in The Jamaica Gleaner: Monday March 6, 2006


THE RASTAFARIAN community in Dominica is calling for a name change for the island, a move being supported by a former Tourism Minister.

Speaking at a conference on the environment in Dominica, Ras Adama Taffari said she believed that Dominica should be called by its indigenous Carib name 'Waitukubuli', which when translated in English means 'tall is her body'.

"Bring forward the name of Dominica to Whitukubuli so we won't sound like dummies under the devils. We as Rastafarians ask our leaders to consider a change so the word, sound and power of Waitukubuli will relate to the Creator, and not to the devil," she said.

The executive member of the Rastafarian community in Dominica also called for a name change for some of Dominica's popular mountains Morne Dyabloten (Devils Mountain) and Morne oh Dyad (Mountain of Devils).

Carib Cultural Village Opens in Dominica

18 February, 2006
From the Office of the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica

"There is great anticipation and heightened interest in Dominica and the Carib Territory in particular, for the official opening of the Kalinago Barana Auté (Carib Cultural Village by the Sea) next week.

"Initially called the Carib Model Village, the project was first conceptualized over 20 years ago, but it was not until 1994 that the Freedom Party Government put it to the Caribbean Development Bank for funding. The total estimated cost of the project is in the region of EC$2.5 million.

"The Kalinago Barana Auté is built on 4.2 acres of land and boasts a number of structures, including an Administration and Interpretation Centre, a Craft Shop, Demonstration Buildings, a Snackette, and a Karbet. Situated close to the sea, the site has a waterfall and a river flowing through it with a series of trails running through it.

"The Kalinago Barana Auté honours the diversity, history and heritage of the Kalinago people by presenting their customs and cultural traditions and by providing an opportunity for visitors to experience, learn about and appreciate their way of life.

The Project is expected to offer many opportunities and services to the Kalinago people. Some of these are:
  • Provide an opportunity for visitors and the people of Dominica to experience, learn about and appreciate the uniqueness of the Kalinago culture;
  • Develop programs so that the Village can host special events, education and community programs and facilitate research;
  • Provide ongoing economic benefits of heritage tourism to the Carib Territory by providing work, small business opportunities and the sale of crafts, traditional foods and herbs;
  • Reintroduce plants from the pre-Columbus era by developing a plant restoration program to restore the area with traditional trees, herbs, grasses, berries and traditional food plants.
"Since the 2000 General Elections, the Government of Dominica has placed the development of the Carib people high on its agenda. In September 2000, the Coalition Government led by Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Douglas, established a Department of Carib Affairs.

"In 2003, the Government of Prime Minister Hon. Pierre Charles formally endorsed the Carib People Development Plan.

"On May 12th 2005 history was created, when for the very first time, Prime Minister, Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit, named a Carib, Hon. Kelly Graneau, as the Minister for Carib Affairs.

"The official opening of the Kalinago Barana Auté next week is another manifestation of this Government's strategy of economic diversification, through the development of the tourism sector. The development of the Kalinago people of Dominica is an essential component of that strategy. "

For more on the Carib Cultural Village, see Kelvin Smith's chapter in Indigenous Resurgence in the Contemporary Caribbean (Peter Lang, 2006).

08 April 2006

UN Report on Guyana


International Convention On the Elimination Of all Forms of Racial Discrimination
… March 2006
Original: ENGLISH
Sixty-eighth session
20 February – 10 March 2006
Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the initial to fourteenth periodic reports (the “report”) of Guyana due from 1978 to 2004, respectively, and submitted in one document (CERD/C/472/Add.1), at its 1747th and 1748th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1747 and 1748), held on 2 and 3 March 2006. At its 1758th and 1759th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1758 and 1759), held on 10 March 2006, it adopted the following concluding observations.

A. Introduction

2. The Committee welcomes the comprehensive report and additional written information submitted by Guyana and the opportunity thus offered to open a constructive dialogue with the State party. It is encouraged by the attendance of a high-level delegation and appreciates the detailed and frank answers the delegation gave in response to the Committee’s questions.

3. The Committee notes that the report was more than twenty-six years overdue when submitted and that the State party had availed itself of technical assistance provided by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. It invites the State party to make every effort to respect the deadlines for the submission of its future reports.

B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation of the Convention

4. The Committee notes that the historic ethnic polarization of the society and of the main political parties of Guyana has reinforced prejudice and intolerance in the State party.

C. Positive aspects

5. The Committee notes with satisfaction that the State party has ratified most of the core United Nations human rights treaties, and that the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (the “Convention”) can be directly applied in the State party’s courts.

6. The Committee notes with appreciation the efforts made by the State party to make the public health system reach out to remote hinterland areas, through a system of health centres and health huts at the community level, incentives to medical doctors deployed to the hinterland areas, and a system in place to airlift patients to hospitals in emergency cases.

7. The Committee welcomes information on the high literacy rate of the Guyanese population, as well as the efforts undertaken by the State party to increase the number of secondary schools in the hinterland areas.

D. Concerns and Recommendations

8. The Committee is concerned about the lack of disaggregated statistical data on the number and economic situation of indigenous peoples in Guyana and about their equal enjoyment of the rights guaranteed in the Convention. In the absence of such statistical information, the Committee finds it difficult to assess the extent of racial and ethnic discrimination within the territory of the State party.

The Committee requests that the State party provide in its next periodic report statistical information on the economic situation of members of indigenous peoples and their communities, as well as on their enjoyment of the rights protected under article 5 of the Convention, disaggregated by, inter alia, gender, age, and rural/urban population.

9. The Committee is concerned that “national or ethnic origin” is not included among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in Article 40 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana and that the list of fundamental rights and freedoms contained in that article does not cover all civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights protected under Article 5 of the Convention. (Arts. 1 and 5)

The Committee recommends that the State party take the necessary legislative measures to include “national or ethnic origin” among the prohibited grounds of discrimination in Article 40 (1) of the Constitution of Guyana and that the prohibition of racial discrimination in that article applies with respect to the enjoyment of all rights and freedoms protected under Article 5 of the

10. The Committee notes that the Amerindian Act of 2006 systematically refers to the indigenous peoples of Guyana as “Amerindians”. (Art. 2)

The Committee recommends that the State party, in consultation with all indigenous communities concerned, clarify whether “Amerindians” is the preferred term of these communities, that it consider the criteria laid down in article 1 of ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries, as well as in the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 8,1 in defining indigenous peoples, and that it recognize the specific rights and entitlements accorded to indigenous peoples under international law

11. While noting with favour that the State party has adopted several measures aimed at improving the situation of indigenous people in fields such as employment, housing and education, the Committee is concerned about the absence of a national strategy or plan of action which systematically address any inequalities that members of indigenous communities face in the enjoyment of their rights. (Art. 2)

The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive national strategy or plan of action providing for special measures, in accordance with article 2 (2) of the Convention, for the purpose of guaranteeing indigenous people the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, and that it allocate sufficient funds for that purpose.

12. The Committee notes the lack of information on the practical application of criminal and other legislation aimed at eliminating racial discrimination, such as the Racial Hostility Act (1997), the Prevention of Discrimination Act (1997), or Article 149 of the Constitution of Guyana. (Arts. 2 (1) (d), 4 and 6)

The Committee requests the State party to ensure and monitor the effective implementation of all legal provisions aimed at eliminating racial discrimination, and to provide in its next report updated information concerning the application by the Guyanese courts of criminal law and other legal provisions punishing and/or prohibiting acts of racial discrimination. Such information should include the number and nature of cases brought, convictionsobtained and sentences imposed, and any restitution or other remedies provided to victims of such acts.

13. The Committee is concerned about the absence of statistical data on the representation of ethnic minorities, including indigenous women, in public offices and government positions. (Article 5 (c)) 1 CERD, 38th session (1990), General Recommendation No. 8: Identification with a particular racial or ethnic group (Arts.1 (1) and 4).

The Committee urges the State party to ensure that all ethnic minorities have adequate opportunities to participate in the conduct of public affairs at all levels, including Parliament and the Government. Taking into account paragraph 8 above, the Committee particularly requests the State party to provide in its next periodic report updated statistical information, disaggregated by ethnic group, gender and rural/urban population, on the percentage, functions and seniority of minority representatives, including Afro-Guyanese and indigenous people, holding public offices and government positions.

14. While noting that the Constitutional Amendment Act of 2000 establishing the Ethnic Relations Commission does not require the representation of any particular ethnic group on the Commission, the Committee is nevertheless concerned about the absence of any indigenous representatives on that Commission. (Art. 5 (c))

The Committee recommends that the State party ensure that the ethnic composition of the Ethnic Relations Commission be as inclusive as possible, and that the representatives of indigenous communities be consulted, and their informed consent sought, in any decision-making processes directly affecting their rights and interests, in accordance with the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 23.2

15. The Committee notes with deep concern that, under the Amerindian Act (2006), decisions taken by the Village Councils of indigenous communities concerning, inter alia, scientific research and large scale mining on their lands, as well as taxation, are subject to approval and/or gazetting by the competent Minister, and that indigenous communities without any land title (“untitled communities”) are also not entitled to a Village Council. (Art. 5 (c))

The Committee urges the State party to remove the discriminatory distinction between titled and untitled communities from the 2006 Amerindian Act and from any other legislation. In particular, it urges the State party to recognize and support the establishment of Village Councils or other appropriate institutions in all indigenous communities, vested with the powers necessary for the self-administration and the control of the use, management and conservation of traditional lands and resources.

16. The Committee is deeply concerned about the lack of legal recognition of the rights of ownership and possession of indigenous communities over the lands which they traditionally occupy and about the State party’s practice of granting land titles excluding bodies of waters and subsoil resources to indigenous communities on the basis of numerical 2 CERD, 51st session (1997), General Recommendation No. 23: Indigenous peoples, at para. 4 (d). and other criteria not necessarily in accordance with the traditions of indigenous communities concerned, thereby depriving untitled and ineligible communities of rights to lands they traditionally occupy. (Art. 5 (d) (v))

The Committee urges the State party to recognize and protect the rights of all indigenous communities to own, develop and control the lands which they traditionally occupy, including water and subsoil resources, and to safeguard their right to use lands not exclusively occupied by them, to which they have traditionally had access for their subsistence, in accordance with the Committee’s General Recommendation No. 233 and taking into account ILO Convention No. 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. It also urges the State party, in consultation with the indigenous communities concerned, (a) to demarcate or otherwise identify the lands which they traditionally occupy or use, (b) to establish adequate procedures, and to define clear and just criteria to resolve land claims by indigenous communities within the domestic judicial system while taking due account of relevant indigenous customary laws.

17. The Committee notes with concern the extensive exception to the protection of property in Article 142(2)(b)(i) of the Constitution of Guyana, authorizing the compulsory taking of the property of Amerindians without compensation “for the purpose of its care, protection and management or any right, title or interest held by any person in or over any lands situated in an Amerindian District, Area or Village established under the Amerindian Act for the purpose of effecting the termination or transfer thereof for the benefit of an Amerindian community.” (Art. 5(d) (v) and 6).

The Committee recommends that the State party afford non-discriminatory protection to indigenous property, in particular to the rights of ownership and possession of indigenous communities over the lands which they traditionally occupy. It also recommends that the State party confine the taking of indigenous property to cases where this is strictly necessary, following consultation with the communities concerned, with a view to securing their informed consent, and to provide these communities with adequate compensation where property is
compulsorily acquired by the State, as well as with an effective remedy to challenge any decision relating to the compulsory taking of their property.

18. While noting the State party’s special recruitment measures for the Armed Forces and the police in favour of indigenous people and other applicants from the hinterland areas, the Committee remains concerned about the ethnic composition of the Armed Forces and the police of Guyana which are predominantly recruited from the Afro-Guyanese population. (Art. 5 (e) (i)) 3 CERD, General Recommendation No. 23: Indigenous peoples, at para. 5.

The Committee encourages the State party to continue and intensify its efforts aimed at ensuring a balanced ethnic representation in the composition of its Armed Forces and police, i.e. by implementing the recommendations of the Disciplined Forces Commission charged to address existing imbalances, by extending its special recruitment policy to all ethnic groups that are underrepresented, in particular the Indo-Guyanese, and by providing incentives for members of under-represented ethnic groups to join the forces.

19. The Committee is deeply concerned that, despite the State party’s efforts mentioned in paragraph 6 above, the average life expectancy among indigenous peoples is low, and that they are reportedly disproportionately affected by malaria and environmental pollution, in particular mercury and bacterial contamination of rivers caused by mining activities in areas inhabited by indigenous peoples. (Art. 5 (e) (iv))

The Committee urges the State party to ensure the availability of adequate medical treatment in hinterland areas, in particular those inhabited by indigenous peoples, by increasing the number of skilled doctors and of adequate health facilities in these areas, by intensifying the training of health personnel from indigenous communities, and by allocating sufficient funds to that effect. Furthermore, it recommends that the State party undertake environmental impact assessments and seek the informed consent of concerned indigenous communities prior to authorizing any mining or similar operations which may threaten the environment in areas inhabited by these communities.

20. While noting with favour that the State party provides school uniforms to all indigenous children free of charge and that indigenous students are the only ethnic group for which special scholarship programmes exist, the Committee is nevertheless deeply concerned about the low secondary school and university attendance by indigenous children and students, as well as about the reported lack of qualified teachers, textbooks and classrooms at schools in areas predominantly inhabited by indigenous peoples. (Art. 5 (e) (v)).

The Committee urges the State party to ensure equal quality of teaching for, and increase school and university attendance by, indigenous children and adolescents and to that end, to the maximum of its available resources, intensify the training of, and provide incentives for, hinterland teachers, proceed with the construction of schools in hinterland areas, ensure the availability of culturally appropriate textbooks, including in indigenous languages, in schools with indigenous pupils, and further increase the outreach of scholarship programmes for indigenous pupils and students.

21. The Committee notes that only few complaints about acts of racial discrimination have been brought before the Ethnic Relations Commission and none before the courts which, according to the State party, can partly be attributed to the high standard of proof required in judicial proceedings and to the difficulties to secure witnesses in a small society such as the Guyanese society. (Art. 6)

The Committee recommends that the State party consider sharing the burden of proof in civil and administrative proceedings once the commission of an act of racial discrimination has been sufficiently substantiated by the complainant, and that it allocate sufficient funds to witness protection programmes in cases concerning acts of racial discrimination.

22. The Committee expresses its concern about the existing ethnic tensions in Guyana which constitute an impediment to inter-cultural recognition and the construction of an inclusive and politically pluralistic society. (Art. 7)

The Committee encourages the State party to provide education and to actively support programmes that foster inter-cultural dialogue, tolerance and understanding with respect to the culture and history of different ethnic groups within Guyana. The Committee further endorses the recommendation of the Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance to establish a constitutional commission on
inter-cultural dialogue.

23. The Committee recommends that the State party consider ratifying ILO Convention No. 169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.

24. The Committee recommends that the State party take into account the relevant provisions of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action when implementing the Convention in its domestic legal order, particularly as regards Articles 2 to 7 of the Convention. The Committee also urges that the State party include in its next periodic report information on action plans and other measures taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action at the national level.

25. The Committee notes that the State party has not made the optional declaration provided for in Article 14 of the Convention, and recommends that it consider doing so.

26. The Committee strongly recommends that the State party ratify the amendments to Article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention, adopted on 15 January 1992 at the Fourteenth Meeting of States Parties to the Convention and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 47/111. In this regard, the Committee refers to General Assembly resolution 59/176 of 20 December 2004, in which the Assembly strongly urged States parties to accelerate their domestic ratification procedures with regard to the Mission to Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago, Report submitted by Mr. Doudou Diène, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, E/CN.4/2004/18/Add.1, 8 January 2004, at para. 41. amendment, and to notify the Secretary-General expeditiously in writing of their agreement to the amendment.

27. The Committee recommends that the State party’s reports be made readily available to the public at the time of their submission, and that the observations of the Committee with respect to these reports be similarly publicized, including in indigenous languages.

28. Pursuant to Article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention, and Article 65 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, as amended, the Committee requests that the State party inform it of its implementation of the recommendations contained in paragraphs 15, 16 and 19 above, within one year of the adoption of the present conclusions.

29. The Committee recommends to the State party that it submit its fifteenth and sixteenth periodic reports in a single report, due on 17 March 2008.