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Government of Belize issues update on draft Maya customary land tenure policy

Posted: Thursday, February 1, 2024. 10:25 pm CST.

Press Release by the Government of Belize

Contributed: The Government of Belize, in consultation with all the Maya communities of the Toledo District, has now reached the stage of proposing delimitation of the villages in terms of their boundaries.

Therefore, the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, through continuing consultations, invites dialogue and is prepared to discuss key aspects of the draft Maya Customary Land Tenure Policy, particularly paragraph 5.

Paragraph 5 of the draft policy proposes a conceptual model for Maya villages to apply for areas of land (within either 1 kilometer, 2 kilometers or 3 kilometers of the center of their villages) to be automatically registered as Maya customary lands. This automatic registration would mean that this limitation would not require proof of customary use and occupation. The draft also allows for the application for additional lands to be registered beyond these limitations once villages can show evidence or proof of customary land use and occupation.

The draft also makes provision for negotiations to take place with third parties who may already have private lands located within the boundaries of the areas to be automatically registered as Maya customary land.

This means that the government is keeping the door open for input and mutual agreement by all interested parties before going to a legislative phase. The ministry emphasizes that the government is not limiting communal lands to 1 kilometer.

The Government of Belize and the Ministry of Human Development, Families and Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs call for respectful consultations and not hasty misinterpretations as we work on the implementation of the Caribbean Court of Justice ruling.

 

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