July 22, 2021
Civil society and other stakeholders should be consulted to help this country to collectively develop a comprehensive national human rights action plan, United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Commissioner Michelle Bachelet has told the Guyana Government in December last year.
In that process, the UNHRC said that it and other UN entities are willing to provide support and that this country should embrace similar support from international organisations.
“I look forward to discussing with you ways in which my Office may assist Guyana in relation to the areas identified in this letter and its annex,” Bachelet wrote to Minister of Foreign Minister Hugh Todd, copied to Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Governance Gail Teixeira.
Bachelet, a former two-term President of Chile, in the letter also called for a national mechanism for comprehensive reporting and follow-up in relation to the recommendations.
The letter followed Guyana’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in January of last year; a process which involves a comprehensive review of the human rights records of all UN Member States, and Bachelet wrote in follow up to number of areas raised in the report.
The letter, sent on December 4, 2020, and published by the UNHRC, was also copied to this country’s UN Resident Coordinator, Mikiko Tanaka and had an attached annex from which this country could use the recommendations as a guide.
Bachelet encouraged Guyana to establish a national mechanism for comprehensive reporting and follow-up in relation to recommendations received from all international and regional human rights mechanisms and to treaty obligations, while linking them to the Sustainable Development Goals. She “strongly” recommended that the OHCHR’s (Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights) practical guide on the topic, be used.
“I would like to take this opportunity to follow up on a number of areas raised in the two reports that my Office had prepared for the review of Guyana – the Compilation of United Nations information and the Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions – which I consider in need of particular attention over the next four and a half years, until the next cycle of the UPR,” Bachelet wrote.
“In identifying those areas, I have considered the statements and/or recommendations made by 76 delegations and the presentation made and responses provided by the delegation of Guyana. I have also considered the actions taken by the Government of Guyana to implement the 88 recommendations supported during the second cycle of the UPR. The aforementioned areas cover a range of issues, which appear in the annex to this letter,” it added.
It is unclear if Bachelet’s letter was responded to but Minister of Foreign Affairs Hugh Todd told Stabroek News that he would provide an update today on Guyana’s actions in relation to the letter. There has however been no known initiative by the PPP/C government since December last year for the creation of a national human rights action plan.
“I encourage Guyana to develop a comprehensive national human rights action plan in order to achieve concrete results in the areas highlighted in the annex to this letter and to facilitate preparations for the fourth cycle of the UPR,” the letter had said.
The UNHRC Commissioner also pointed out that she was sharing advice to the process with all member states with a view to assisting them with the implementation of the recommendations, following the review.
She noted that an important measure that can positively contribute to follow-up action is voluntary mid-term reporting. “Therefore, I strongly encourage all Member States to submit a voluntary mid-term report two years after the adoption of the UPR outcome report, in this regard, I encourage Guyana to consider submitting a mid-term report on follow-up to the third cycle of the review, by the end of 2022.”
Bachelet welcomed Guyana’s commitment to strengthen the transparency of the electoral process. She said that this was highlighted by the support expressed to relevant UPR recommendations and reiterated by the delegation during the adoption session of the outcome report on the review.
She said that she was “also encouraged by the decision of Guyana to undertake a participatory process of constitutional reforms to ensure inclusive governance and respect for human rights, social harmony and reduced inequality for all.”
Neither the electoral reform process nor the constitutional reform process has since moved ahead.