In an attempt to engage the Honourable Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, to resolve the issue arising from the possession of mining blocks by another Minister on proposed Amerindian land, the following letter was issued by GEPAN.
Hon. Minister Raphael Trotman
Ministry of Natural Resources
Dear Minister Trotman,
TASSERENE – CONFLICT OF INTEREST ARISING FROM MINISTER BROOMES’ MINING ON AMERINDIAN PROPOSED TITLE LAND
The Guyana Empowered Peoples Action Network (GEPAN) notes with concern the statement you issued on Tuesday, February 16, during the 2016 budget debate in Parliament, in which you indicated after being questioned by an Opposition Member of Parliament, that you are unaware of the existence of a conflict of interest regarding Amerindian land in Tasserene, Region 7.
The question posed by the Opposition Member of Parliament was the following:
“Can the honourable Minister state whether the Ministry is aware of outstanding conflict issues regarding Amerindian land in Tasserene, vis-à-vis agencies within the purview of the Honourable Minister?”
The response you provided was as follows:
“Sir, we are unaware of these so called conflict issues, but we invite any member of the House or member of the public to bring them forward so that they may be addressed in a timely manner”.
This response comes as a surprise in light of the conflict of interest arising from Junior Minister Broomes’ possession of three mining blocks on the Tasserene proposed title area.
GEPAN brought this matter to the attention of the United Nations Resident Representative to Guyana Ms. Khadija Musa, in a letter dated February 13, 2016, as well as in a separate letter addressed to the indigenous affairs Minister, Hon. Sydney Allicock, on February 18, 2016. Both letters were copied to you and to Junior Minister Broomes on the said dates. Subsequently, we are disappointed to learn that you are still unfamiliar with this conflict of interest.
We therefore take this opportunity to heed your advice and bring this matter specifically to your attention.
Junior Minister Broomes in July, 2015, after the publication of an article in the media which exposed the matter, strongly denied the claims that she possessed mining blocks on the Tasserene Amerindian proposed title land. (Source: Guyana Chronicle, July 12, 2015. http://guyanachronicle.com/minister-broomes-threatens-to-sue-guyana-times-for-libel-and-slander / )
However, upon taking up her role as Junior Minister of Natural Resources in January, 2016, she was compelled to admit that she does possess the said blocks at Issano. Issano is located on Tasserene’s proposed title land.
Junior Minister Broomes during a press conference convened at Cara Lodge, Quamina Street, January 6th, 2016, confirmed her ownership of the three blocks in question. She has also indicated the possibility of selling them to another mining company. (Source: Guyana Chronicle, January 8, 2016. http://guyanachronicle.com/broomes-says-no-conflict-of-interest-serving-as-natural-resources-minister/).
The Blocks in question appear on the GGMC mineral map for the proposed title area of Tasserene, and are registered under:
- Simona Broomes (or SB), B-149/MP/000, 2013
- Simona Broomes (or SB) B-149/MP/001, 2013
- Simona Broomes (or SB) B-150/MP/000, 2013
However, according to the following national and international legislations, the actions of the Honourable Junior Minister are in violation particularly of:
- Article 8. 2 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states:
“States shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for:
- (b) Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources; “
- Article 26, 3 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which states:
“States shall give legal recognition and protection to these lands, territories and resources. (…)”
- Articles 6, 7, 10, 25, 26. 1, 26.2, 27, 29.1, 29.2 and 32 are also applicable to the Government of Guyana and its responsibility in guaranteeing the access of the people of Tasserene to their ancestral land rights.
- The Second Schedule of the Amerindian Act, n° 6 – 2006 which states:
“AN ACT to provide for the recognition and protection of the collective rights of Amerindian Villages and Communities, the granting of land to Amerindian Villages and Communities and the promotion of good governance within Amerindian Villages and Communities.”
- The Preamble of the Constitution of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana which states:
“WE THE GUYANESE PEOPLE (…) Value the special place in our nation of the Indigenous Peoples and recognize their right as citizens to land and security and to their promulgation of policies for their communities;”
- Article 111 of the Mining Act Cap. 65:01, which states:
“For the purposes of this Act, all land occupied or used by Amerindian communities and all land necessary for the quiet enjoyment by the Amerindians of any Amerindian settlements, shall be deemed to be lawfully occupied by them.”
In addition to the legal framework encompassing indigenous land rights, the Government in an effort to promote exemplary leadership, has the responsibility to ensure that each of its members prioritizes the welfare and rights of the people of Guyana, and in this case the Akawaio people of Tasserene.
Minister Broomes reserves the right to have her blocks relocated out of the proposed titled area upon simple request to the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC), one of the agencies your Ministry spearheads. The GGMC is known to facilitate such a process once the miner is willing to cooperate. Relocation of these blocks would significantly reduce the obstacles to the Tasserene Land Titling Process, expediting the responsibility and the objectives of the Government of Guyana.
Considering the aforementioned elements and the need to address indigenous land rights in Guyana, the Guyana Empowered Peoples’ Action Network (GEPAN) humbly requests your urgent intervention in attempting to resolve this conflict of interest on behalf of the Akawaio people of Tasserene.
We also invoke the Government of Guyana’s responsibility to adhere to the principles of accountability and transparency in its fight against corruption.
GEPAN patiently awaits your swift response without which we will be forced to engage other sectors of the civil society in finding corrective measures.
Guyana Empowered Peoples’ Action Network (GEPAN)
Cc: Hon. Minister Joesph Harmon
Cc: Junior Minister Broomes
Cc: Hon. Minister Sydney Allicock
Cc: Hon. Minister Amna Ally
Cc: Ms. Khadija Musa
Cc: Mr. Alvin Joseph, Tasserene Village Council
Cc: Mr. Joel Fredericks, Chairman, National Toshaos’ Council (NTC)
Cc: Ms. Doreen Jacobus, Indigenous Peoples’ Commission
Cc: Mr. Terrence Adams, President, GGDMA
Cc: Mr. Peter Persaud, President, TAAMOG
Cc: Survival International
Cc: Forest Peoples Programme
Cc: Amnesty International
Cc: Human Rights Watch
Cc: Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA)
Cc: Rev. Compton Meerabux, TIGI
Cc: United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (OHCHR)
Cc: Ms. Marianne Johansen, Director, Institute of Environment/LCDS, Government of Norway
Cc: FCPF Secretariat
Cc: Delegation of the European Union to Guyana
Cc: Mr. Jean Ricot Dormeus, Representative, Organisation of American States (OAS)
Cc: Guyana Representative, Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO)
Cc: Ms. Gail Teixeira, Chief Whip, PPP/C
Cc: Hard print and electronic media houses