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Maya Leaders continue to push to have government honor the Consent Order handed down by the CCJ

The Maya leaders of Maya communities in Southern Belize continue their fight towards the guaranteeing of land titles to the Maya people. Monica Magnusson, the attorney representing the 39 communities in the case at the Caribbean Court of Justice, presented a statement at the 17th Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, UNPFII. The session was held from April 16 to 27 in New York under the theme “Indigenous peoples’ collective rights to lands, territories and resources”. In her statement, Magnusson asked for solidarity from world diplomats and that the rule of law be upheld. In 2015, the Caribbean Court of Justice reaffirmed the customary land right of the 39 Q’eqchi and Mopan Maya Indigenous communities of southern Belize. However, little progress has been achieved in the implementation of Consent Order of April 2015 and the matter is currently before the CCJ. In her statement, Magnusson says that the leaders have exhausted all domestic and international legal mechanisms to obligate the Belize government to respect the Maya’s collective rights to lands, but the state continues to quote, “allow third parties to adversely affect the value, use, and enjoyment of our lands. This includes issuing of concessions for oil exploration, logging, and the demolishing and desecration of our sacred sites, and undermining the authority of our traditionally elected leaders who defend our lands,” end of quote. Magnusson continued by asking what other recourses do the indigenous leaders have when the government quote, “can choose to freely disregard the rule of law issued by their own Supreme Court, to disregard recommendations from the Inter-American Commission, to disregard the ruling of its highest appellate court, the Caribbean Court of Justice, to disregard two cycles of UPR Recommendations from their peers?,” end of quote. A news article published on “Cultural Survival”, stated that in November this year, Belize will be reviewed under a human rights compliance mechanism called the Universal Periodic Review, in which it is expected to be held accountable for its failure to abide by domestic and international laws. It adds that “Cultural Survival” and the Maya Leaders Alliance have submitted a stakeholder’s report to the Universal Periodic Review outlining violations to Indigenous Rights experienced by the Maya People of Southern Belize in this case.