Mar 10, 2016 News
Government will be waiving the fees paid by farmers in the hinterland for firearm licenses, in addition
to facilitating the return of their firearms, which were collected during the firearm amnesty of 2015, when Guyanese with unlicensed firearms were given time to turn them in.
This announcement was made by Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, during a post cabinet press conference yesterday. He stated that this decision stems from the “hardship” that the indigenous community has experienced after relinquishing their firearms.
“During the amnesty the villagers of some hinterland communities who had unlicensed firearms surrendered them to the relevant authorities in the expectation that they would be considered for firearm licenses.”
“Since then,” he explained. “The lack of firearms has created hardship for some communities whose residents are unable to hunt and whose crops are being damaged by roving animals including wild hogs. We are (also) told of an increase in incidents of attacks by jaguars.”
“As a consequence, Cabinet has agreed for the non destruction of the firearms,” he said. “And for the return of firearms to indigenous persons who surrendered their weapons during the firearm amnesty and to issue licenses to them. There will also be a waiver of the firearm application process, to expedite the granting of these licenses to these communities.”
Asked what justification would exist legally in bending the rules of the firearm act, Trotman noted that this was a prerogative of the Minister.
“The justification would be the Minister has certain powers and it is within the rights of the Minister to make the determination,” Trotman noted. “I think when the amnesty was declared there were various scenes both in the television and print media where Toshaos and farmers in the hinterlands were voluntarily coming forward with their shotguns with the belief
that they were respecting the law.”
He stated that at the same time these individuals had an expectation that the law would recognize their legitimate need to protect life and property and that the government would extend some considerations to them.
Trotman observed that the government gave a promise that they would look into their matters and with these developments, were now keeping that promise. Firstly, he observed that these weapons would not be destroyed and secondly, the deserving cases would have their weapons restored through the village councils.
“We are not waiving the granting of licences,” Trotman emphasized. “We are waiving the application fees for the farmers in the hinterland, which is within the remit of the Minister.”
There had been reports in sections of the media that Amerindian leaders were up in arms about the livelihood of hinterland residents after they had handed in their weapons.
Amerindian Leaders were reported as saying that indigenous residents, particularly of Regions Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Nine (Upper Takatu- Upper Essequibo) are expected to receive gun licences when they handed in their illegal firearms during the Amnesty period.
As a result, it was reported, hinterland residents are now left without a proper means of sustaining their families since they have no weapons to hunt or ward off predators.
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