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GOB Seeks Extension on Deadline to Appeal the Jalacte Court Ruling

The Briceno Administration is seeking an extension on the deadline to appeal the Jalacte court ruling that has ordered the government to pay out more than six million dollars. The application for an extension comes after the government failed to meet the deadline to file an appeal. Supreme Court Justice, Michelle Arana rendered the ruling on June 16 in favour of Jalacte Village after the government acquired customary Maya lands without the villagers’ consent. Back in August the Minister of Natural Resources, Cordel Hyde spoke on the matter saying that it is somewhat complicated. For context here is that interview.

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Yes we do affirm that we are appealing the case to say that yes that’s a real problem in the areas that are known as Mayan communal lands. Separate from that we have a big challenge there in terms of balancing the rights and the responsibilities of people who own lands there previous to this judgement and also making sure that we protect, that we preserve the rights of the Mayan people who have won that landmark decision in the CCJ. So that’s a difficult thing for us but right now we’re before the CCJ, I believe that we were supposed to provide a draft FPIC protocol that will govern how we administrate the situation in Toledo but we asked for an extension and I think sometime in September we’re supposed to provide that. I know we have a first draft, we’ve been working diligently on that to try to finesse it, to try to perfect it, to try to make it such that everybody can be satisfied that we preserve everyone’s rights, that we make sure that the Mayans have access to these lands for their customary uses and also to ensure that the people who have leases before and titles before that they’re not prejudiced in a very substantive kind of way. So at the end of the day it’s to make sure that everyone wins.”

Reporter: Do you see this process, taking this case to the CCJ costing the government or incurring more expense on the government in terms of securing good attorneys to defend the interest of the government and the people of Belize ? 

Cordel Hyde, Minister of Natural Resources: “Whenever you go to court it’s costly but hopefully – we’re gonna appeal it – but hopefully through this process of coming up with the FPIC protocol there will be satisfaction all around. Hopefully once we establish the process we can come to a happy understanding in terms of moving forward and that may have implications also for that case because at the end of the day ultimately a road is there for the benefit of everyone but at the same time too the Mayans contend that their customary land rights and usage have been prejudiced by this road but at the end of the day I think if we can talk to each other instead of at each other, if we can consult with each other, if we can work together as Belizeans under one flag, one nation I think we can work things out. I think we can find a happy solution or a solution that is satisfactory to everyone it’s just about how we go about doing business and I am hopeful that we’re coming to the Mayans with respect and that it will be reciprocated and that ultimately at the end of the day we’ll work this thing out for the benefit of all Belizeans.” 

Love News understands that the government has contracted two private law firms to work on the extension for the appeal.