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Copyright ©2014 Parliament of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana.

The Universal Periodic Review

Hits: 3626 | Published Date: 09 Aug, 2012
| Speech delivered at: 28th Sitting - Tenth Parliament
| Speech Delivered by : Hon. Samuel A.A. Hinds, MP

Mr. Hinds: I rise to speak to the motion standing in my name. I think it is quite self-explanatory. We note that societies evolve and sometimes things that were not accepted before may be accepted at a later time or vice versa. In our particular case here it is noted that the first WHEREAS clause, in our presentation to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2010 and in September 2010...If I may say so, our colleague Hon. Member Gail Teixeira made very good presentations on those occasions and made reports. In the second WHEREAS clause the Government tabled, in this National Assembly, a compendium of documents on Guyana before the first UPR, submitted by our honourable colleague. In the third WHEREAS clause we note that certain recommendations were made to Guyana, or Guyana received several recommendations. We were urged to do certain things and we committed ourselves to consult on three main matters. These matters, while they may be now acceptable in certain so-called advanced, developed, sophisticated societies they are controversial here in Guyana and they  are the abolition of corporal punishment, the abolition of the death penalty and the decriminalisation of consensual adult same sex relations and discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons. 
We know that public consultations have begun with target groups and across our country, particularly, I think, the Ministry of Education has been leading in questions about corporal punishment in schools. There have been discussions from time to time about the death penalty, and even fifteen minutes ago I was seeing on National Communications Network (NCN) Members of various faiths calling for a resistance against decriminalising consensual adult same sex relations and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender persons. We may recall too that there was some controversy coming out of this honourable House on the question of rights, a Bill that had to do with individual rights sometime ago. Once this House had allowed it to pass there was, from the public, some outcry and our President, at that time, held his hand back from assenting to that. In such a present circumstance we are recommending that the National Assembly approves that these matters be submitted to a Special Select Committee established for that purpose.
We go forward to suggest some terms of reference to guide the work of this Special Select Committee. First, that we look to the attitude of Guyanese, especially parents and children, to corporal punishment and its possible abolition. The attitude of Guyanese, particularly the families of victims, criminologist and professionals, on capital punishment and its possible abolition and the attitude of Guyanese to any changes in the legislative provision and criminal code regarding consensual adult same sex relationships and discrimination perceived or railed against gays, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
We go on further to call for this Special Select Committee to present to this House its work programme and time frame for adoption and implementation and that it advises the National Assembly from time to time on its work programme and finally its recommendations with regards to any or all of these aforementioned matters.
This is the issue before us. There has been quite a lot of discussion already in the media on these matters. If I may be allowed to, maybe, give some comments on it, I would say that I have been born long enough and I am old-fashioned enough to be conservative on many of these matters, on the issue of corporal punishment in schools. Many of us in my age group were encouraged, some may say, along the way with very generous applications of tamarind rods. Some people said it might have been for good and some others looked to us and said that they can see features developed in us, which may have been bad and we have passed to the exams anyhow. I know there is that discussion.
I was in Jamaica last week, as we know, and they told me there that it is not  just  an anecdote about parents bring their children, paying the airline ticket and getting back to Jamaica so that they can spank them and then travel back to New York. They told me that it is not an anecdote, but it has happened.  I was not sure. I did not have enough time to research the subject.
On the question of the death penalty, I would admit that maybe I have grown a bit more squeamish about the death penalty. Maybe, some aspects of my Christian indoctrination are coming through there. I am a bit uneasy about it. On the other matters, Sir, I would say that, again, maybe the indoctrination from sixty years ago still keeps me somewhat unhappy about any relationships that we would have  said to have been unnatural in those days, at least sixty years ago or so.  I would expect that there is quite a wide range of opinion in our country and maybe the younger people, who are the future, may feel somewhat differently. I recall one saying that people do not change their opinion, that is, individual people. The only thing that happens is that people change in the society. The older people passed away and then the younger people have their say or do things their way. 
We look forward to quite an open discussion. We do not see the need for any political positioning on these matters. We expect that each of us would reflect on these matters as a matter of our own conscience, our own experience and our own thinking. I therefore urge that this motion be adopted.

 

Mr. Hinds (Replying): Yes Mdm. Deputy Speaker. When I introduced this motion, I did not think that we would have taken so long a time on it. The thrust of this motion is that we send these questions to the select committee and in the select committee the various representations that we have heard could have been presented there in even much greater detail. But I accept that maybe we wanted to give some idea of what might be considered in the select committee.
I would not want to detain us any much longer, because we still have quite a bit of business to conclude on this evening.
I think maybe only one question I might want to refer to and that is what the Hon. Member Volda Lawrence asked about: Why should we be responding to these questions which are urged on us by various developed, maybe sophisticated, countries? I would say it is because we are a member of the United Nations and as was said by someone presenting, that in our membership of various conventions and covenants, we do need to address these questions. And here is an opportunity for all our people to speak to these questions.
I like therefore, but before, let me also speak to the question about may be having three different select committees and I think that someone on my side might have spoken it too. Just to reiterate, we do not think that we need to have three separate select committees. I think we are seeing quite a load of work going into the future. I think that one select committee would be able to manage. Maybe as we select people for the committee, we can bear that in mind and select individuals that might have a leading interest, as has been demonstrated on by the APNU, on the other side there. They had divided the work amongst street persons there.
With that Mdm. Deputy Speaker, I would like to propose that the question be put.

Related Member of Parliament

Profession: Chemical Engineer
Date of Birth: 27 Dec,1943
Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24) | Motions Laid:(9) | Questions asked:(0)

Related Member of Parliament

Date Became Parliamentarian: 1992
Speeches delivered:(24)
Motions Laid:(9)
Questions asked:(0)

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