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Ethnic Relations Commission
66 Peter Rose & Anira Streets, Queenstown, Georgetown, Guyana
Tel. +592-231-6479, 231-6473,
231-6281, 231-6265
Fax: +592-231-6246

May 7, 2007

PRESS RELEASE

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) wishes to correct the inaccuracies and refute the conjectures posited in an article captioned “Life of the ERC comes to an end” in the Monday May 7, 2007 issue of the Kaieteur Newspaper.

The ERC is a permanent Constitutional Body enshrined by Constitutional Amendment Act No. 11 of 2000 which amends Article 212 to provide for the establishment of an Ethnic Relations Commission. The Constitution does not state that the life of the ERC will be altered or concluded. However, it makes provision for the duration; Commissioners should serve on the ERC.

Article 212 B (4) (a) outlines that a majority of those members elected to serve on the Commission, shall be appointed, in the first instance, for four years and thereafter can be deemed eligible for a three-year re-appointment on the Commission. Neither the Editor nor any reporter of the Kaieteur Newspaper, sough any comment from the ERC on this matter, to validate the information nor to give balance and objectivity to the news story, which is a basic journalistic requirement. The ERC wishes to advise the general public that the Commission is and will continue to be a permanent constitutional body mandated to promote harmony and good relations in Guyana.

The ERC’s focus for 2007 is building partnership and strengthening the relationships which have been established throughout 2006. The Commission is currently researching the undercurrents shaping the ways in which Guyanese relate to each other. Consultants have been commissioned to conduct scientific research to acquire information from private and public agencies on the existence of policies and practices which provide for the equitable distribution of employment, land allocation, award of contracts, educational opportunities, loans and other types of capital finance. This investigation will allow the ERC to carry out one of its functions, which is to monitor and review legislations and administrative acts or omissions relating to or having implications for ethnic harmony and equal opportunities.

As part of its continuous outreach work, the ERC made its inaugural Regional Visit for 2007 with a call to Region Two where the Chairman, Commissioners and Programme Officers conducted meetings with the Regional Democratic Council, the public, religious leaders, the Chamber of Commerce and continued the ERC’s Public Education and Awareness programme. During the call to the region, Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill urged regional executives to continue the camaraderie which stimulated the peaceful elections environment last year. He noted that irrespective of a non-violent 2006 elections, efforts to foster racial harmony and social cohesion should continue in order maintain good relations among the ethnic groups.
Religious leaders from across the Region met in caucus, discussing issues pertaining to religious tolerance. The ERC Chairman expressed gratitude to the religious community for the role it played in fostering the peaceful atmosphere which pervaded the national and regional elections last year. The ERC will continue to engage religious leaders to explore ideas which can inspire religious tolerance and understanding in Guyana.

The ERC wishes to reiterate that its life has not come to an end. The Commission continues to perform its function in the areas of public education and awareness, investigation, conflict resolution and research. Further, the ERC strongly condemns any attempt to undermine its effort to encourage citizens to make accommodations for our cultural diversity and embrace our racial multiplicity. The ERC wishes to express its disapproval of any effort to arouse feelings of insecurity among the populace. The Commission urges all Guyanese to maintain the amity, good will and harmony which have begun to take shape within the society.

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