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Mayan Land Rights case before the CCJ once more

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The case of the Maya Leaders Alliance and twenty three Mayan villages versus the Attorney General of Belize was before the Caribbean Court of Justice this afternoon. The matter is in relation to Maya Communal Land Rights. The Government has not created an effective mechanism to identify and protect Maya lands in accordance with Maya traditional governance which it was ordered to do by the CCJ three years ago. At the last CCJ session concerning this matter, a meeting to discuss a draft Dispute Resolution Framework was held. The parties also updated the CCJ where they are with regards to the draft work plan. Program Coordinator for the Maya Leaders Alliance, Pablo Mis explained what happened in court today.

PABLO MIS, COORDINATOR, MLA

“I think that the court today displayed its concern that its orders are not being followed. That is not good if we are going to try to use the courts time and effort to guide this very historic decision to fruition. We also want to note that these are very important obligations that the government have made not only to the people of Belize but internationally in compliance with its obligation to uphold the rule of law and to uphold human rights. Belzie in fact comes up for review before the United Nations Human Rights Consul in November and this certainly will be an issue that will be discussed there and as good citizens of this wonderful country we would like to be able to share with the rest of the world a positive trajectory for the defense of human rights and the rule of law in Belize. What we had today out of this court hearing is, again an order that has established two dates for the government to comply with. One has to do with the dispute resolution mechanism, the fact is that we cannot pursue the implementation of this order if there are ongoing violations because at the end of the day when we are finally implementing there will be nothing to protect- so the court is very clear on that and the government have explained that they need some time to take directives from those that make decision on the proposed mechanism that has been put before the court; now they have committed to the court that they have finalized by April 6th so that should be filed with the court. The other issue has to do with the work plan. The work plan is more looking at the substantive orders, that we understand will take time and the work plan needs to be appreciated in the context that this is about the future of the Maya people. This is about the future of many people and it is  something that we require which the court has instructed requires proper consultation. So again we have failed, or the commission had failed to comply with dates it has given the courts to hold consultations with the Maya people on this. They finally sent us a draft work plan about two days ago that needs to be reviewed properly as I said because this is the future of the Maya people. We have committed to them that we will submit our review in writing by April 6th and then we’ve gotten from the government side that within the next two months we should be able to have an agreed and a joint work plan submitted to the CCJ as per its orders.”

The appellants were represented by Attorneys Magali Marin Young, Monica Coc Magnusson and Allister Jenkins while the respondent was represented by Attorneys Samantha Matute Tucker, Stefan Knight and Redha Promanad. 

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