SASOD’s Zenita Nicholson, who facilitated the workshop, is also grateful to the Commonwealth Youth Programme – Commonweath Secretariat, Equitas, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) and the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) for technical support, training and guidance in aiding her preparation to undertake this role.
Opening remarks were made by the Country Coordinator of UNAIDS, Dr. Roberto Brandt Campos, who reiterated that to get to zero stigma and discrimination we need to take care of the vulnerable and key populations who are most susceptible to HIV. In order to address discrimination, human rights abuses must be documented. “It’s a good place to start,” added Mr. Michael Fraser, Political and Economic Affairs Chief from the US Embassy in his remarks, sharing a synopsis on the history of human rights, particularly stressing on their universality. Mr. Fraser also shared findings from the US State Department’s Human Rights Report on Guyana.
Civil society groups spanning all three counties of Guyana, Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice, and who work directly with children, youth, women, sex workers, people living with and affected by HIV, substance abusers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, participated in the workshop: Stella’s Sisterhood of Support and Service (S4) Foundation; Hope Foundation, Bartica; Hope for All, Essequibo Coast; Guyana Sex Work Coalition (GSWC); Network of Guyanese Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS (G+); Justice Institute Guyana (JIG) Inc.; Youth Challenge Guyana (YCG); United Bricklayers, Berbice; Def Association Guyana; Linden Care Foundation; Child Link; Phoenix Recovery Centre; Guyana Rainbow Foundation (GuyBow); and SASOD.
Participants discussed the need, as a GEF collective, to promote and protect human rights and equality in Guyana through advocacy; participation in the consultation process of the Special Select Committee on Guyana’s Commitments to the United Nations Human Rights Council with regards to the Abolition of Corporal Punishment in Schools; the Abolition of the Death Penalty and the Decriminalization of Consensual Adult Same Sex Relations and Discrimination against LGBT persons; forging partnerships and building alliances with other organisations and groups.
Partners were enthusiastic, and agreed unanimously on using the Martus software, which was introduced and discussed as a mechanism to protect sensitive data and shield identities of survivors and witnesses who provide testimony on human rights abuses. The Martus software is an open source tool which is used by organisations worldwide to document human rights violations.
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