MINISTER of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond on Tuesday delivered a statement at the Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, which is being held in New York.
While commending the work of the Forum, Minister Walrond reiterated the commitment of the Government of Guyana to upholding the dignity of people of African descent through the protection of their human rights in our legal framework.
In a similar vein, she spoke of the commitment to ensuring equitable access to the social and economic programmes of the government such as free education, healthcare and access to housing and water, which collectively represent more than one-third of our national budget.
In terms of the legal and institutional framework, she underscored the guarantees provided in the Constitution to the right to protection from discrimination on the grounds of race, gender and religion amongst other characteristics, the Racial Hostility Act and the establishment and work of the Ethnic Relations Commission.
Minister Walrond also expressed Guyana’s strong support for reparations for the historical atrocities associated with slavery and the slave trade, while indicating that Guyana is part of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and had also established a National Reparations Committee of Afro-Guyanese leaders.
She concluded her statement by indicating that “Guyana is a multi-ethnic society striving to forge unity and harmony amongst our diverse peoples. We will, therefore, continue to support the work of this Forum, including the elaboration of a Political Declaration on People of African Descent.”
The Permanent Forum on People of African Descent is being held under the theme “Realizing the Dream: A UN Declaration on the promotion, protection and full respect of the human rights of People of African Descent.” The Forum opened today and concludes on May 2.
Guyana’s delegation is led by Minister Walrond and includes two members of the Ethnic Relations Commission, Mr. Sheikh Moeenul-Hack (Chair of the ERC) and Mr Deon Earl Dick (Ras Khafra), and Dr Erica Forte.
The delegation is joined by Permanent Representative, H.E Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Ms Abosede Hazlewood, Second Secretary.