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Sep 26, 2018

Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission Holds Consultations to Draft Land Tenure Policy

For the past two days, the Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission has been meeting with consultants to develop a draft of a Maya Customary Land Tenure Policy.  On Tuesday, the consultants met with various stakeholders and today with members of the commission to determine the next step in laying out a framework to comply with the consent order of the Caribbean Court of Justice issued back in April 2015.  The issue of customary land rights has been contentious between the Commission and the Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association who are of the view that G.O.B. has been slow to act in implementing the order. The consent order speaks of developing legislation or an administrative framework or any other measure to establish the customary land rights of the Maya people in Toledo. The process started back in June and today when we caught up with Chairperson Lisel Alamilla she told News Five that a substantial draft policy will be issued to the Attorney General’s office.


Lisel Alamilla

Lisel Alamilla, Chair, Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission

“When you talk about a customary land tenure, they are governed by different conventions within the global framework of what the indigenous people have been advocating for. So basically what we are doing is looking at the consent order and bringing it down to how we are going to apply that in Belize. What does it look like, what should it include; what are some definitions that we have to include. The consultants are using the definitions that are agreed upon at the UN or in different global spaces. The way you develop policies in Belize, traditionally—or laws, sorry—is you really sit down and you develop a policy document because that gives you an opportunity to really think things through, really what do you want the laws to say and you discuss it and you discuss it and it would go to the ministry that is in charge. For example, in the case of the commission, it would go to the Attorney General’s Ministry; he would review it and then they will determine if it is ready to go to cabinet. So if cabinet endorses it, cabinet might send it back and we will need to make revisions. And if they are in agreement with it, then what you would do is send it to the legal drafters to start drafting legislation if it is so determined, which I can’t image that it won’t need legislation.”

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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