The Maya Leaders Association and the Toledo Alcaldes Association have filed legal action against the Government of Belize for contempt of court.
The case was filed on Tuesday because the indigenous groups feel that the Government is not respecting their land rights, which were affirmed by Supreme Court judgments in 2007 and 2010.
The groups feel the GOB’s issuing of permits to the oil company US capital energy to conduct exploratory drilling on land recognized by law as belonging to the indigenous Maya, is not only disrespectful, but illegal and say they are turning to the courts for protection.
According to MLA spokes person Christina Coc, the indigenous peoples have been attempting to negotiate with GOB for some time on a proper framework for oil operations to be carried out on traditional lands,
The MLA says the negotiations have not been forth coming and “urge the Attorney General, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Ministers whose portfolios are affected by the land rights issue to sit down at the table with the Maya people to develop a framework that will benefit both the Maya and the government alike.”
In November 2012 the MLA issued a position paper and framework, which they believed, should steer the course for GOB’s communication with the Mayas. The Position paper made specific reference pt the 2010 ruling made by then Chief Justice Dr. Abdulai Conteh affirming the land rights of the people.
The position paper also made reference to the Inter-American Convention on Human rights 2004, which affirmed the rights of indigenous people to their traditional lands.
The TAA, which represents 38 villages of indigenous peoples, and the MLA which supports them, asserted that GOB by the IACHR and the Supreme Court rulings are legally obligated to obtain free prior and informed consent form the Maya people before any form of development is done on their land.
Senior Counsel Antoinette Moore will represent the MLA and TAA in this new legal battle.