Maya Leaders release UN letter to GOB

The Maya Leaders Alliance has made public a correspondence sent to the Government of Belize by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, inquiring about human rights violations in southern Belize.

In a nine-page letter to the government the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, wrote to GOB inquiring about the concession given to and activities of US Capital Energy on Maya traditional lands.

Other issues discussed in the correspondence included the lack of free, prior and informed consent with respect to activities taking place in Maya lands, the impact of oil concessions on livelihoods and access to food, and the distribution of land.

The UNSR emphasized that Belize has signed on to UN conventions that address these issues, and reminded that there are two court judgments affirming the rights of the Maya to their indigenous lands.

The UNSR further reminded GOB that the 2010 court judgment instructed GOB to devise a system to demarcate, title and distribute fairly the traditional lands to the indigenous Maya of southern Belize.

The letter concluded asking whether the information reported to the UN was in fact accurate and “what steps has the State of Belize taken to ensure that the recommendations of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the rulings of the Supreme Court of Belize relating to the demarcation and titling of Maya customary lands are implemented?”

The MLA’s Pablo Mis explained on Tuesday that the UN sent correspondence to GOB in April, giving a 60-day window for GOB to respond before the correspondence could be released to the public. Mis says that up to the time of the release GOB has still not responded.

The MLA and GOB have been in constant court proceedings for several years, the most recent decision by the MLA to take court action being July 29th. Over 300 leaders from all the Maya villages in Toledo converged at the Julian Cho Technical High School, where a unanimous endorsement was given to take the appeal to the Caribbean Court of Justice in light of the Court of Appeals’ ruling that it is not GOB’s job to demarcate Maya traditional lands.

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