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Human Rights body slams gov’t over Muri Brasil survey

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The Human Rights Association says the protection of the national patrimony cannot be left up to the government, since the Muri Brasil scandal revealed it failed to act in the public’s interest. As a result, the Association, said that other sectors of the society – including trade unions and the military -will have to step up.

Muri Brasil Ventures was granted permission for Geographical and Geophysical Survey in November 2012 for several types of minerals in the sensitive New River area of South-East Berbice, an area claimed by Suriname. Those surveys could have led to the granting of 18 propspecting licences.

A scandal broke when Minister of Natural Resources Robert Persaud was accused of withholding the information about the deal from a Parliamentary committee. The Minister denied this, saying he was simply not asked a specific question and that the deal was published in the gazette anyways.

Earlier this week, the Minister said the deal was perfectly legal and blasted those who were against the deal, saying they were trying to undermine the country’s economic development.

Today, The main opposition APNU said the environmental value of the areas was its main concern in protesting the deal.

The Guyana Human Rights Association said that one of the lessons from the Muri Brasil story is that the priority assigned to environmental protection under the low carbon strategy has been abandone, given the intention to grant mining licenses in the New River Triangle without regard to long-term destructive impact on rivers and forests.

Muri Brasil last weekend walked out of the deal, saying that although the process was legal and transparent, it was dumping the project due to the misinformation, prejudice and hostility to this proposed survey by persons and agencies which are fostering an adverse investment climate in Guyana.

This is how Mr Roopnarine responded to the company’s statement.

The Human Rights body also said that the combination of mining and environment in the same Ministry provided a platform for a conflict of interest, that would not give environmental protection priority.

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