NGO: Afgørelse i Guyana krænker oprindelige folks rettigheder

Forfatter billede

Den guyanesiske højesteret har afgivet dom til fordel for en mineejer, i en sag om rettigheder til minedrift på jord, der tilhører oprindelige folk. Ifølge NGO’en Forest People’s Program er dette en krænkelse af de oprindelige folks rettigheder.

GLOUCESTERSHIRE, 28 January 2013 (Forest People’s Program): On 17 January 2013, the Guyanese High Court ruled in favour of a miner who has a mining concession (rettigheder til minedrift) on titled indigenous lands (områder ejet af oprindelige folk).

The ruling (afgørelsen) states that miners who obtained mining permits prior to the Amerindian Act of 2006 are not bound by its provisions (bestemmelser), and consequently do not have to obtain permission (tilladelse) from indigenous villages before carrying out operations on village land.

Pres på oprindelige folk stiger trods international opmærksomhed

This ruling sets a negative precedent for the indigenous peoples of Guyana, who have been seeking to have their lands recognised and respected for decades (årtier). It also exposes the lack of adequate (passende) protections for indigenous lands in Guyana, a situation which will only be exacerbated (forværret) as pressures from mining, logging, and carbon projects grow.

Indigenous peoples inhabit most of Guyana’s interior, and depend on forest resources for their livelihoods. Indeed, as has been shown elsewhere, indigenous peoples have been very effective in protecting forests on their traditional lands.

Meanwhile, however, pressure from mining and logging (tømmerhugst) concerns is mounting (stigende) – in
contradiction to growing interest from the international community in paying to keep Guyana’s forests standing. Indigenous lands get stuck in the middle. The January 17 court decision illustrates this only too well.

En kamp om land

The inhabitants of Isseneru village received title (ejendomsret) to their lands in 2007, and have sought to address the problems brought by miners invading these lands ever since.

Eventually, one of the miners brought them to court – for seeking to protect their traditional lands – and with this decision, won. The highest court in Guyana has thus ruled that indigenous peoples have little to no say over the development of their own lands. As the village’s press release states:

“We are deeply disappointed and worried with this ruling and what it means to our village and to Amerindian communities in general. On the ground it has serious environmental and social impacts for us. The miners have, for example, brought with them problems related to drugs and prostitution. At the higher level, we feel that when the High Court tells us that we have no rights to decide and control what takes place on our land, then the land is not ours.…Just Friday, when inquiring at the office of the GGMC [Guyana Geology and Mines Commission], we learnt that our whole land is covered with mining concessions. Yet, the government has not informed us about this”.

Indigenous peoples in Guyana are now demanding that the court ruling be overturned and are planning legal action to challenge the decision. Many also believe that the Amerindian Act needs to be further strengthened to give indigenous peoples a greater say and control over their titled lands.

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