Elections Commission team meets UN Special Rapporteur on Racism
Stabroek News
July 20, 2003

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United Nations Special Rapporteur on Racism, Dr. Doudou Diene says he is in Guyana on an information gathering exercise, and not to denounce or criticise any government or non-governmental organisation with regard to problems of racial discrimination, xenophobia and race-related intolerance.

Dr. Diene was speaking to a team of Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) officials on Tuesday at the Commission’s boardroom.

A release from GECOM said that Dr. Diene told the team headed by Commission Chairman Dr. Steve Surujbally there was the perception that the issue of racial discrimination was compounded by violence and he sought the views of the Commission as a principal actor in Guyana’s democratic process.

The UN Rapporteur also emphasized that his role in Guyana was not to act as a judge or tribunal, but rather to engage in discussions to get a clear understanding relevant to occurrences of racial discrimination and xenophobia with a view to assisting with solutions to such problems, the release said.

He assured the GECOM team that meeting with them would greatly aid the preparation of his mandated report for the United Nations.

Issues discussed included the role that GECOM can play in defusing tensions before, during and after elections, the autonomy and authority of the Commission; and how it could influence the evolution of sound community relationships as a key factor in addressing race relations.

Additionally, the release said, the media was identified as one of the main public facilities with the principal responsibility of promoting racial harmony.

Dr. Diene was accompanied at the meeting by Daniel D.

Atchebro, Human Rights Officer, Office of the High Commission for Human Rights, and Nnke Garnette of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The GECOM team included Commissioners Dr Keshav Mangal, Haslyn Parris and Mahmood Shaw, as well as Acting Chief Election Officer Keith Lowenfield.