Just over 2 weeks ago, we told you how the Maya communities of the south had won a landmark victory in the Caribbean Court of Justice. The country's highest appellate court ordered that the Government of Belize has to make reparations of $300,000 for all the decades that the colonial and post-colonial governments had refused to recognize and protect their land rights.

The main case had been decided back in April when the Government surprised everyone and decided to concede to that recognition and protection of their rights. The Court made it a binding consent order which meant that the Government was legally obligated to carry out a process of formally recognizing and protecting that rights within the laws of Belize.

But, the Mayans have been waiting for about 7 months for the Government to at least start consultations with the 39 Maya villages on how those rights should be formalized. The Government has done nothing as yet to comply with the order, and so the Maya claimants filed another application to the CCJ as sort of wake up call.

Except their attorney, Monica Coc-Magguson, was pressing for more than that, and when the case was heard this morning via teleconference, she asked the judges to grant 5 orders and declarations against the Government. Those included defining Maya rights as including the right to determine who can and cannot live in Maya villages, a declaration that the Government had breached its undertaking to the court, an order for damages for those breeches, and an order that the Government and Maya must agree on how the $300,000 for the reparations must be spent.

The court did not grant any of those reliefs that the Maya were asking for, but it did order that the Government must begin the process to comply with the undertaking that they had given and report meaningful progress back to the CCJ by January 21st of next year.

This morning, we got an opportunity to discuss the case with one of the spokespersons for the Maya Leaders Alliance, about their interpretation of the outcome:

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator - MLA
"Since that order of April 2015, we have made various attempts to the government to come around the table and begin the process of implementation. Unfortunately we have never and not received any formal response from the government and to date nothing really in our mind has happen with respect to implementation. Yet, on the ground there are numerous violations that we consider are contrary to the spirit of the final consent order. So in that context then we were forced to make another application to the court to again demonstrate to the Caribbean Court of Justice that the government has not made any effort to implement the final orders and that was heard this morning."

"Essentially the outcome of this morning, we did not get everything that we have ask for, but what's very important about the outcome is a declaration that was made by the attorney of the government submitting that they will begin the process of implementation. The judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice felt that it was no longer acceptable, the behavior of the government was no longer acceptable to continue delaying the process and they impressed upon the government's attorney to give them much more and in that spirit then, the CCJ ordered that the government report to them in January 21st, on the nature of implementation to that date. So that's a very positive outcome from the court."

Daniel Ortiz
"We understand that the Santa Cruz 13 issue was mentioned in the case as an example of how the government continues to treat this issue of important Maya rights."

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator - MLA
"There are several important point that we brought before the court; one of them includes the fact that the government has publicly stated that the nature of the Maya people right is not defined. They've also nationally stated that the Maya people or villages do not have exclusive rights to decide who can and may reside in their communities. And so in the backdrop of that we outlined to the court. The court felt that at this point it was more important to impress upon the government to begin implementation. So they choose to not address those points that were brought - the issue of the rights. The issue of declaration that the government continues to violate the consent order. They choose not to address those as yet, but force the government to begin implementation and report to them in January and thereafter then, if these continue to happen, then it would be a different approach in terms of addressing those before the CCJ."

Today, when we spoke with Government Attorney Denys Barrow, we asked why the Barrow Administration had not done anything for the past 7 months to comply with this consent order. He told us that for the greater part of the first 3 or so months, the Government's legal energies, and personnel were focused on finalizing the court settlements with Fortis and Michael Ashcroft for BEL and BTL, which were very extensive.

Then, as is well known, all Government business was disrupted by the November 4 General Elections. According to Barrow, now that a new Cabinet is in place, there will be a greater priority placed on getting tangible results in try to protect Maya land rights.

Later on the news, we have a little bit more on today's discussions in court about that novel judgment that the CCJ made in favor of the Mayas about reparations.

Making Reparation Fund Real

At the top of the news, we told you about the Maya claimants' trip back to the Caribbean Court of Justice on Maya Rights.

Less than 3 weeks ago, they got a huge judgement in their favor that the Government must set up a fund of $300,000 to make reparations on their behalf. But, not much detail has been given on how this will exactly work, specifically, what are the terms, and how will this money actually be used? That's the clarification that their attorney tried to seek from the judges who granted the decision in the first place.

The spokesperson for the MLA discussed that aspect of this morning's hearing with us, and here's what he had to say:

Pablo Mis, Program Coordinator - MLA
"We did brought that up as well. Again, for us it was important to clarify what exactly is that amount of money going to be use for and what is it going to support. Is it going to support some of the activities of the Maya people? Because we will have to do consultations and organize our Maya people as well and that's going to incur resources. The court again opted to give the government the benefit of the doubt and they included as a part of the element that must be reported on in January of next year."

Some of the details should be worked out by January 21.

Channel 7