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Jan 15, 2016

Anthony Ross Joins Land Rights Commission

Anthony Ross

The Toledo Land Rights Commission was formally introduced earlier today during a press conference at the Radisson.  The working group which is responsible for carrying out the consent order of the Caribbean Court of Justice is chaired by former minister Lisel Alamilla.  That directive requires government to take up positive measures to identify and protect the rights derived from customary land tenure.  This morning’s panel comprised of all commissioners, including Queen’s Counsel Anthony Ross, an esteemed attorney with substantial experience in Indigenous Affairs.  He joins the team as an expert consultant.  The Commission will set up an underlying set of ideas that will ensure collaborative consultation and participation of key stakeholders, with primary focus on twenty-three villages.

 

Anthony Ross, Consultant

“The order of the Caribbean Court of Justice is quite clear.  There are nine operative paragraphs and they are all numbered, however, if you take them you would realize that for the purpose of meeting the objectives of the order, you only have to concentrate on paragraphs numbered one through five.  For my purposes, I would rearrange the order just for discussion here. Can we start with paragraph number five. Paragraph number five reads that that the constitution of your government over all lands in Belize is not affected by the order. Now that is a declaration of the CCJ and it is really a non-negotiable declaration. You have a constitution and it is the umbrella under which all the other paragraphs must survive.”

 

Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Chair, Toledo Land Rights Commission

“We haven’t designed what our consultation process will be, but I’m sure it is going to be inclusive of all persons that are interested in participating in these issues and all ethnic groups who are interested in it. This is going to have impact nationally so it has to be, part of the process has to involve listening to the views and opinions of other groups.”

 

Reporter

“And then on the question of public meetings, you said you haven’t decided…”

 

Lisel Alamilla

“But I can’t imagine that it would not include public meetings.”

 

Reporter

“And then I would direct this to Mister Ross…your comment that we are on the edge of a new day; that both sides need to realize that they are no longer adversaries but must become cooperative. How do you see the commission’s role in reaching the point that both sides can agree to coexist with this new regime. Do you see yourselves in that process as mediators or as some other form of intercessors in this situation?”

 

Anthony Ross

“No, I don’t know that we can see ourselves as mediators and I do not know that we can at this state craft any modality that can be imposed upon the Maya; this is a starting point. As far as the meetings are concerned, we have to speak with the Mayas because we are not sure if they are going to want meetings in the individual villages or whether or not they are going to want a general collective, one spot where everybody comes. All of that, we are very concerned that even as the planning is concerned…when you are thinking of the planning, you have to take into consideration whatever are the concerns of the Maya.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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