Chinese Landing village Council disappointed with Government’s “fact finding” team

Chinese Landing village Council disappointed with Government’s “fact finding” team

The Chinese Landing Village Council believes the ‘fact-finding’ team that was sent into the area by the Government fell short in addressing the issues highlighted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

On Sunday, the team, led by Government Member of Parliament Alister Charlie met with the residents of Chinese Landing to initiate the process of consultation on the implementation of the measures recommended by the IACHR.

However, in a statement today, the Chinese Landing Village Council said it was not only disappointed that the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs did not form part of the team, but the team was given a very limited mandate.

Quoting the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Research Officer, Anil Persaud, the Village Council said the ‘fact-finding’ team was given “clear directive” to investigate the circumstances which led to the adoption of the precautionary measures by the IACHR, and nothing else.

The Council was reportedly told that the team was in no position to address the other recommendations made by the IACHR.

“We are concerned that the fact-finding team seemed to misunderstand the nature of the IACHR’s precautionary measures. The team said it could not speak to the first two parts of the decision (that all necessary measures be taken to protect our rights to life and personal integrity and that these measures be agreed upon by the village),” the Village Council said.

It said that it hopes that the Government would not wait until the completion of its investigation to address to the first two measures recommended by the IACHR. 

“While we support the cessation (albeit temporary) of mining on Mr. Vieira’s blocks, this action alone is not sufficient to protect our rights – whether or not they are mining, the miners are still present on the blocks, and they still carry weapons,” the Council said.

During the meeting, the Council made it clear that the mining permits granted to Mr Vieira must be revoked, and that the rights of the indigenous people of Chinese Landing must be upheld.

“At the meeting, the residents of Chinese Landing sent a clear message to the government team: to protect village members’ rights to life and personal integrity, Wayne Vieira’s mining permits must be revoked, and the miners must be removed from the village’s lands,” the Council said..

In addition to this primary request, residents called for the full implementation of the measures recommended by the IACHR. Those measures include the removal of the firearms of the miners and security guards on the blocks, the stationing of new police officers in the village until their lands are restored, and speeding up the resolution of in the Court case.

“Regarding our court case, we are happy with MP Charlie’s commitment that “we are here to build your case” by way of the fact-finding team and we hope that he will support us as we seek to expedite resolution of our case at the Court of Appeal,” it said.

However, the Council said it was disappointed that the team either was unwilling or did not have the authority to commit to any of the proposals at the meeting.

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