By Benjamin Flowers, Staff Reporter
The ongoing court battle between the Government of Belize and the Maya Leaders Alliance (MLA) and the Toledo Acaldes Association is scheduled be heard in the Caribbean Court of Justice in April and the MLA said this week that they are ready.
Pablo Mis spoke this week for the MLA on the upcoming case, saying that the organizations are confident in the preparations and the Court’s decisions which have brought them to this point.
“Our position on the substantive matter, which was backed up by the Supreme Court and the court of Appeal, has not changed”, Mis said, “and while the court has the right to make its own decision, we don’t foresee any changes in the principles laid down by the other courts.”
Mis added that since 2007 when the entire legal battle started, the courts have affirmed that the Maya people have and should enjoy customary rights to their communal lands. The sentiment Mis said has the support of the wider international community.
In August 2014 the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights held its 152nd special session held in Mexico City, and in that session, condemned the Government of Belize’s unaccountability and non-compliance when dealing with issues relating to the human rights of Belize’s Maya people.
In the Supreme Court of Belize, former Chief Justice, Dr. Abdulai Conteh had affirmed the rights of the Maya people, which was supported in 2013 when the Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s appeal of Conteh’s decision.
The MLA requested leave of the CCJ to appeal the Court of Appeal’s decision, which they said removed fundamental safeguards while affirming the rights.