Country
Belize
Sources
InforMEA
Tagging
Licences, Permits, Contract, Environmental Impact Assessments, Land Tenure, Human Rights, Property, Wildlife, Land Use, Indigenous Rights
Abstract

In this case, the plaintiff was a company representing the interest of the Maya villages within the Sarstoon- Temash National Park and whose aim is to co-manage the Sarstoon Temash National Park with the Government and to ensure that the interest of the indigenous populations are taken into account in the decision process. The plaintiff challenged the decisions granting an environmental clearance permit allowing an oil company to drill within the Sarstoon Temash National Park.

The plaintiff requested from the court that it declares the decision to allowing oil drilling and the construction of an adjoining road null and void, that it cancels all related licences, and that it issues an order requesting the Government to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the plaintiff before granting any licence or permit within the National Park. The plaintiff based his claim on the National Park System Act which provides a list of activities prohibited within the park, such as oil drilling.

The Supreme Court followed the argumentation of the plaintiff and held that the decision to allow oil drilling and road construction in the National Park is irrational and that it violated the rights of the Indigenous Maya Peoples to their lands, territories and resources. As a result, the Supreme Court cancelled all the decision contested and all its related permits and ordered the Government of Belize to obtain free, prior and informed consent from the Indigenous Maya Peoples for every contract, permit or licence which falls within the National Park.