Maya Land Rights Commission responds to allegations

The Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission was established by the Government of Belize following a Consent Order of the Caribbean Court of Justice over  the Maya people’s rights to customary land tenure. As we told you earlier this week, the matter was before the CCJ for a Compliance report as the Mayas have been complaining that the Commission has been dragging its feet in the process as it has been three years since the April 2015 consent order was given to demarcate and register the boundaries of indigenous lands in the South of Belize. Following the court session on Monday, we had spoken to Cristina Coc, spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance who indicated that despite court rulings, the Mayas continue to be disrespected. For content, here again is that comment.

Cristina Coc, MLA spokesperson: I think today went very well, I think that the court has seen very clearly despite that fact that they only see bits and pieces of the real picture of how the government treats the Maya  people and how it continues to fail to appreciate the rights of the Maya people in Southern Belize. It continues to do everything possible to disregard and disrespect good faith consultations and to delay the process of implementation. We are three years since this decision was given and to date we still have not come to agree to a very simple task that is of a joint work plan, a road map that will set out what is it that the court has ordered the government to do. Now, time and time again, we come to the court, we listen to the way that the government has create this excuse after excuse and fail to recognize. We are convinced that this government, this commission is incapable of recognizing and giving regard to due process. The Maya people have not tried to block any action of the government, the Maya people continue to insist that it needs to be inclusive of the Maya people, that it needs to listen and consider meaningfully our inputs. Who else would you consider? If these are the people that you are supposed to be doing these actions for to the benefits of these people, why wouldn’t you consider them?

Today, the commission issued a statement saying that it  recognizes the importance of a work plan to guide the implementation of the order. As such, the services of an expert consultant, with extensive experience in dealing with indigenous peoples’ issues at both regional and international levels, was contracted. It says the Commission has followed due process and made every effort to seek out the views of the different stakeholder groups. It says these groups have been consulted with on several occasions, at various stages of development of the work plan, to solicit their input.  The Commission says it has not shied away from meeting with any one group, and the final work plan reflects input from prominent indigenous groups.

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