CCJ Receives update on 2015 Consent Order
The Caribbean Court of Justice this morning received a status update from the Government of Belize and the Maya Leaders Alliance on the progress made in implementing the Consent Order. On April 22, 2015, the parties, in this case, entered into a Consent Order in which, among other things, the Government of Belize agreed to develop a mechanism to recognise the land rights of the indigenous Maya people. The Maya people in Belize had long been struggling to have their traditional land rights recognized and protected. In 2007, they brought their case to the CCJ, which is the highest court in Belize. After years of litigation, the CCJ issued a consent order in April 2015, which recognized the Maya people’s rights to customary land tenure, and required the government of Belize to take various steps to protect and enforce those rights. The consent order established a framework for the government of Belize to work with the Maya people to identify and protect their traditional lands, to develop mechanisms for resolving land disputes, and to ensure that any development projects on Maya lands are carried out in consultation with the Maya people and with their free, prior, and informed consent. One of the matters discussed this morning was the status of the authority, Professor Rosa Celorio.
Leslie Mendez, Attorney for Appellants: “I actually meant to also make the same inquiry to the respondents unfortunately this was an issue that was slightly overlooked in our meeting but we also are concerned about what is the status of the authority right now especially in light of the fact that we now have a complaint being lodged by Laguna. We certainly wouldn’t want to be lodging complaints into the abyss if we don’t have a clear indication of what has been communicated to the authority, what has been agreed upon. On the last occasion the authority herself made mention of the lack of communication from the respondents and so we would like some clarity on that. We certainly have not had any communications with the authority. We were also curious to see if she would be present today. So really we do absolutely need clarity on this issue in order for us to know how to proceed.”
SC Andrew Marshalleck, Attorney for Respondents: “That has happened in the past because as I understand it is that any complaints are made to the authority. The authority directs these very complaints to the commissioner for action so what has been happening is that the complaints are being received directly by the idea was for the commissioner to receive it directly and to action them. We’ll reach out to professor Solario and seek to formalize an arrangement. We thought we had one, we need to find out what the position is if she has objections to that and we can work that out but our intention is to keep the authority in place but attempt to deal with the matters more quickly so that there’s less need to invoke the procedures before the authority.”