ERC promoting unity, harmony through several initiatives

The Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) remains steadfast in fulfilling its mandate to foster harmony and good relations amongst all ethnic groups in Guyana through targeted programmes and initiatives.

This was made clear by ERC’s Chairman, Sheikh Moeenul Hack on Wednesday, during a press conference at the Cara Lodge Hotel, Georgetown.

Chairman of the ERC, Sheikh Moeenul Hack, delivering the official statement at the press conference on Wednesday

The ERC is also celebrating its first full year since the commission was reconstituted with the swearing-in of ten new commissioners in March last year.

“The commission has undertaken several initiatives geared towards fulfilling its twenty-four functions as outlined in Article 212 (d) of the Constitution of Guyana. It has been a fairly fruitful year,” Commissioner Hack emphasised.

In 2023, the ERC heightened its stakeholder engagements, ensuring there were fruitful discussions among religious, youth, ethnic, and gender groups across the ten administrative regions.

“The commission, over two months, convened 10 stakeholder engagements with representatives of the various constituency groupings, namely African, Indian, Indigenous, Islamic, Hindu, Christian, women, youth, private sector, and Labour, respectively,” he explained.

Hack pointed out that the commission also strived to have engagements with parliamentary political parties. To this end, the ERC requested meetings with the party leaders.

To date, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the Alliance for Change (AFC) were the only two parties to respond and arrange meetings.

Further, the recently concluded Local Government Elections saw the participation of more than 60 observers identified and fielded by the ERC to work towards ensuring that the electoral process was free, fair, and transparent.

The commission recognises that these principles of democracy are the foundation upon which unity and peaceful co-existence are developed,” Hack said.

Additionally, a total of 105 instances were documented by the commission’s media monitoring unit. These included instances where ethnically/racially offensive comments over the past year.

According to Chairman Hack, many of the instances warranted warnings, and others “of a more serious nature” were forwarded to the investigative unit for further action.

With 80 complaints received, the ERC through its investigative unit managed to conclude nine investigations, forward five of those cases for police intervention, and direct 10 to external agencies for further action.

Commissioner Neaz Subhan providing an outline of the workplan for the upcoming year

Accordingly, about 26 of the cases are awaiting investigation, while 25 are actively being investigated. Two of the concluded cases were resolved through conciliation.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Neaz Subhan outlined several plans that the ERC is seeking to implement in the upcoming year.

Among these initiatives is the ‘I Dare You’ pledge which will be taken by several high-level politicians.

“We are hoping that the politicians and public figures will take the I dare you pledge publicly in an effort to encourage others and to influence people in a very positive way. That’s the intent of the campaign,” Subhan highlighted.

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