Regularising is the most sensible and humane solution to the impasse between the authorities and squatters at Success, East Coast Demerara (ECD), says the main Parliamentary Opposition, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC).
Last week, the Guyana Police Force (GPF) fired pellets and tear gas in a bid to remove squatters who were said to be occupying lands owned by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo). The Corporation said that the presence of these settlers and structures were impeding the recommencement of sugar operations on the ECD.
The GPF said that it resorted to using force after squatters became “hostile” and “aggressive” during a visit by GuySuCo/NICIL officials last week. The decision by the police to use force has since been a source of contention with the APNU+AFC labelling the actions as “inhumane” and “dangerous”.
The Coalition said this morning that Guyanese in need of a place to call their home – to which they are constitutionally entitled – have been “bullied, intimidated and terrorized by the Guyana Police Force acting on the instruction of the PPP regime”.
In order to resolve the impasse and to prevent violence, the Coalition said that regularisation is necessary.
The former Communities Minister, Annette Ferguson, who was in charge of housing under the Coalition administration, said that housing is a basic need and a human right for all people. She said that this right is enshrined in Guyana’s Constitution. Article 26 of Guyana’s constitution provides for “the right of Guyanese to proper housing accommodation.”
She said that under the APNU+AFC regime, many squatting areas were regularised without standoffs between the authorities and squatters. She added that the PPP/C administration should ensure that it takes a humane and considerate approach in ensuring that the matter is resolved.
“The United Nations Habitat on Housing Right clearly outlines that adequate housing is a human right enshrined in international human rights law. Failing to recognize, protect, and fulfil the Right to Adequate Housing results in the violation of a plethora of fundamental right including the Right to Work, Education, Health and Security,” she said during a press conference this morning.
Asked if the Success squatting issue was brought to her attention when she was the housing minister, Ferguson response in the negative. She said that even if it did, the Coalition would have found a work-around, rather than serving ultimatums and using force.