Press Release

September 2, 2020

The Ethnic Relations Commission, (ERC), has been diligently conducting investigations into complaints received and has been adopting measures to bring amicable resolutions to racial and ethnic issues in the execution of its constitutional mandate.

The Commission, through its Investigative Sub-Committee arm, has conducted mediation sessions touching and concerning adversities surrounding racism in the work force and racial conflicts in land occupation and land allocation. A mediation exercise was completed at the Fort Wellington Dental Department, WCB, where accusations were made of racial partiality in the performance of professional duties and discriminatory discipline of staff on the basis of race. During the mediation, the health officials gave an undertaking to work in unison and emotional apologies were made.

The Commission, through that exercise has made recommendations for departmental changes which include effective systems of record keeping and human and social development of staff through counselling and training.

A team recently mediated in the community of Mon Repos, ECD, where land conflict evolved into racial tensions. In addition to the mediation session, the Commission has been working in conjunction with the Lands and Surveys Commission to settle allegations of land encroachment, a matter in which the ERC expects an imminent resolution.

Racial allegations have also been made surrounding the unlawful repossession and allocation of land under the control of a co-operative society. The investigative team of the Commission worked closely with the Co-operative Development and Societies Department in addressing the concerns of the members. This matter is currently still under investigation as the Commission awaits the submission of important documents in the case.

Anonymous complaints have been made to the Commission involving state entities. In particular, an anonymous complaint was made citing racially prejudiced promotion practices of the Guyana Police Force. However, during the course of the investigations, that matter has since resolved itself. An anonymous complaint was also made against the recruitment practices of the Bureau of Statistics.

Nevertheless, though the Commission is committed to treating certain information as confidential, there has been little progress in that investigation as persons are not coming forward with information.

A majority percentage (87.2%) of the complaints received by the ERC regard incidents on social media, more specifically Facebook with a total of 89 complaints out of 102. The Commission’s capacity to productively investigate those complaints is limited by factors such as the use of fake profiles to make racially insensitive posts or comments and in the case of active profiles, there are challenges such as private user profiles or the unavailability of the accused person’s legal name, address or contact information, or the accused residing out of Guyana, making jurisdiction an issue.

As a result of those limitations, the Commission has adopted two courses. First, it has published the posts and faces of persons whom complaints have been made against through social media in the “Persons of Interest” initiative. This has generated positive feedback with the public’s assistance and in some cases the co-operation of the accused.

Individuals such as Chaitram Goberdhan aka Bounty, Lucra Adams, Lashana Chester, Mollyann Moonsammy, Marcel Haymer and Tifany Greene have contacted the Commission. The practice of publishing persons of interest will be done periodically and the Commission is relying on the public’s assistance in identifying offenders.

Secondly, the Commission met with the Criminal Investigations Department, Cyber Crimes Unit and the two agencies are on a productive path of working together. Some of the complaints received by the Commission do not offend against the Racial Hostility Act nor the Representation of the People Act but instead are criminal offences to be investigated by the police. Those complaints have been referred to the police for necessary action. Eight Facebook incidents fall in that category (7.8%).

One complaint of an incident in the real world fell under the jurisdiction of the police and evoked summary court proceedings (0.98%). Furthermore, one complaint (0.98%) falls outside of the ambit of the ERC but is a matter to be investigated by the Women and Gender Equality Commission.

The Commission has also investigated complaints made against public officials, for instance, the Mayor of Bartica is currently under investigation. Since the publication of his name in the” Persons of Interest”, he has undertaken to co-operate with us.

Despite the many impediments, some beyond the control of the ERC, the Commission has been tirelessly working to promote harmony and good relations in our ten administrative regions.

Ethnic Relations Commission