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Jul 11, 2018

G.O.B. Back in Court Over Land Rights Claim in Jalacte

Attorneys for the Government of Belize are fighting yet another lawsuit filed in the Supreme Court by the indigenous Maya community of southern Belize.  The claim brought against the Office of the Attorney General was first reported in April 2016 and has to do with a sixty-acre swath of land in Jalacte Village that was acquired for the purposes of constructing a highway, as well as to erect a substation for the Belize Agriculture Health Authority.  The land was taken away without government ever consulting the community, as per the terms of the Consent Order handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice in 2015.  Not only are villagers seeking compensation, they also argue that government has altogether ignored the Consent Order from the CCJ.  Cristina Coc is the spokeswoman for the Maya Leaders Alliance.

 

Cristina Coc

Cristina Coc, Spokesperson, MLA

“It is in connection with Maya land rights.  Despite the 2015 Caribbean Court of Justice order, unfortunately the Government of Belize continues to ignore Maya land rights arising out of customary land tenure which protects property, property rights of the Maya people, equal to any other property rights in Belize, in direction contravention of Paragraph Four of the Consent Order where it states that the government, having any interest in lands on Maya villages would have to seek the free, prior and informed consent of the Maya communities, short of fully acknowledging, legislating and putting mechanisms in place to protect the rights arising from customary land tenure.  The Government of Belize, in Jalacte, has arbitrarily taken land from the village of Jalacte without their consent, without their permission, without consulting them and certainly without compensation for any damages that might have occurred on their lands.  This case is particularly concerned with the BAHA substation that was placed on lands in Jalacte Village, along with other areas of land that have been taken, connected with the same development, including the expansion of the highway which in some instances have completely bisected the lands of farmers in Jalacte.  So the highway itself has divided even plots of land that were customarily being used by farmers of Jalacte.”

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