As Guyana gears towards the March 2 polls, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has indicated that two major political parties are being investigated for the use of racial slurs during their campaign rallies.
During a press conference held yesterday at Cara Lodge, an ERC Commissioner, Norman McLean stated that “we have identified two incidences that took place where language was used which we (ERC) thought was used to excite the crowd on the basis of race.”
The Commissioner indicated that these two incidents took place at Plaisance, where Joseph Harmon addressed APNU/AFC supporters and at a People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) rally in Kitty, where Juan Edghill addressed those present.
As it relates to racial slurs uttered by officials within political parties, the Commission indicated that if investigated and the complaints are found to be of a serious nature, the said individual can be charged criminally. Additionally, the findings of the ERC’s investigation can be forwarded to the Chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) and the political party can be removed from the ballot. The Commission highlighted that the type of sanctions solely depend on the gravity of the complaint
On that note, a draft of a proposed “Code of Conduct” relevant to the electoral period was shared with all the political parties contesting the general and regional elections, requesting their input for finalization of the document. However, only one party has thus far provided the Commission with a response.
Additionally, ERC has proposed a similar Code of Conduct from GECOM.
Meanwhile, Chairman for the Commission, John Smith stated that through its investigative arm, the Commission dealt with 61complaints during the year 2019 of which 44 have been brought to a closure; 12 to be reviewed and five remain active. The complaints received were all reports of various forms of discrimination during 2019.
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