Land Tenure, Property, Constitutional, Indigenous Rights, Land Use, Evidence, Forests, Injunctive Relief

In this case, the plaintiffs are representatives of the Maya indigenous population from the Toledo District. They request from the court the recognition of their traditional land rights by the Belize land legal framework and require measures to be taken by the Government to protect Maya customary property rights in accordance with Maya customary laws and land tenure practices and in consultation with the Maya people. In addition, the government should abstain from registering the Maya land, issuing any leases or grant to land or resources from the Maya people, issuing any concession for resources exploitation.

In front of the court of first instance, the plaintiffs pointed out that the absence of recognition of their traditional rights was an obvious violation of their constitutional right to property and to their indigenous rights. The judge of the court of first instance followed their argumentation and held that there was a violation of their constitutional rights and granted them all the reliefs they had sought. Doing so, the court followed the decision of the Supreme Court in the 2007 Aurelio Cal and others vs Attorney General of Belize and others.

The defendant sought appeal in front of the Court of Appeal. The judges of the Court of Appeal upheld the decision of the court of first instance and affirmed that Maya traditional collective and individual land rights in the Toledo District gives rights to property rights as provided by sections 3 and 17 of the Belize Constitution. As a result, the Court dismissed the appeal.