Maya Land Rights Commission appointed Print E-mail
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 14 January 2016 00:00

The Caribbean Court of Justice has set April 30, 2016 as the date for Government and the Maya leaders to return before the Court and report on the implementation of a land tenure system that features customary rights in Maya Villages. This was after Government reached a settlement with the Mayas conceding their right to customary land. In order to comply with this order, the Government of Belize officially appointed the Members of Toledo Maya Land Rights Commission on January 11, 2016. The commission will be chaired by Lisel Alamilla and she will be joined by Noreen Fairweather and Crown Counsel Randall Sheppard as members. Anthony Ross, described by the Attorney General as “a highly regarded attorney with substantial experience in Indigenous Affairs”, has been assigned to the commission as an expert consultant.

When government reached the agreement with the Mayas, Prime Minister Barrow explained that the commission will hold consultations in the Toledo District to determine what system is desired by each village. The commission will be responsible for the demarcation of villages and to get a mandate from each village on the type of land tenure system decided. One of the first things to be clarified is what determines a village as a Maya village. Residents of villages determined to be Maya villages will vote on whether they wish to obtain land on a communal basis in their village or as individual land owners. The question must then be answered of what rights will people in Maya villages have who; either are not Maya descent or do not wish to live on “communal property”. This is just one of many tough questions facing this new commission.

After the commission presents its report to Government, it will be taken to the National Assembly for debate.