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Oct 23, 2013

Day two of arguments in SATIIM versus US Capital Energy and Government case

Denys Barrow

On Wednesday SATIIM, Mayan communities, US Capital Energy and the Government met in court to argue for a ruling on rights – Mayan rights to communal lands versus the government’s rights to allow drilling on that land. The first day was spent with attorney Eamon Courtenay making his submission on behalf of SATIIM and the communities of Conejo, Crique Sarco, Graham Creek and Midway. Today, it was government’s turn, and attorney Denys Barrow took center stage to argue that side. When court adjourned for the noon break Barrow briefed the media on the thrust of his submission.

 

Denys Barrow, Attorney for G.O.B.

“I basically argued over the same ground that he argued but presented a different view of the ground, of the evidence and I am hoping to persuade the judge that the view which I am putting forward is in fact the correct or the better view for her to accept.”

 

Reporter

“Can you explain to us what is the thrust of your argument?”

 

Denys Barrow

“Two or three things this morning. The first was the question whether the evidence which was presented in this case was capable of establishing that in relation to the affected areas within the park, whether the Mayan communities have any customary land rights in respect of these particular areas. So the question is not whether the Mayas have customary land rights. The courts have repeated declared that they have such rights, but the particular question is where do those rights reside; where are they located. And we say that it is for the claimants to prove where those rights exists and we say that there isn’t any evidence which establishes that in the particular areas in dispute, in questions, those rights exists. We are talking about boundaries or the absence of boundaries—this I think is the particular point. I made the point to the court that it is regrettable that the demarcation of the boundaries have not taken place but it has been recognized by the courts repeatedly that there is a need for delineation and demarcation of boundaries. So this is not something that the court can do. It is something which needs to be done by the Maya people and the government of Belize with the aide no doubt of international agencies and groupings.”

 

Reporter

“What is the fundamental difference between your position and that of the claimants?”

 

Denys Barrow

“The fundamental difference is we say that the Mayas have not established that they own “the lands where the drilling is to take place.” we say that they have not established what are their rights in relation to the area even if they have rights to the lands in relation to the area.”

 

On Thursday, attorney for US Capital Energy Michael Peyrefitte will present arguments on behalf of his client.

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