Belize: Government undermines Maya traditional leaders

Discriminatory acts against the Maya People are carried out by Belize’s Government since 1953, resulting in the violation of international norms since 2015.

Despite the historical practice of the Maya people appointing Alcaldes as governing authorities, and the agreement made by Belize’s government to recognize them as judicial officers through the Alcalde Act of 1858; the government has failed in its commitment with 78 Alcaldes and 39 Maya communities in Southern Belize.

Recently the government informed the Toledo Alcaldes Association that there is no publication or recognition of appointed Alcaldes since 2015, and no Alcalde jurisdiction published since 1953.

The government’s discriminatory refusal to honour Maya customary governance is a violation to The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that highlights the rights of self-determination, self-governance (Article 4) and the right to maintain and developed decision-making processes, representatives and political institutions (Articles18-20). It is also a contravention to The American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples that emphasises on the recognition of Indigenous law and legal systems (Article XXII).

Delegitimizing the Alcalde system is a way of disregarding the 1953 Inferior Courts Act and the commitment signed by The Caribbean Courts of Justice in April 2015, and can lead to prosecution of 79 Maya leaders for carrying out their official duties.

Despite the negligence these leaders continue to serve their communities in accordance with their customary law and call upon the government to recognize the Alcalde jurisdiction and appointments in the 39 Maya villages in a way that is consistent with the Maya customary law, domestic law and international law without further delay.

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Date: 23/08/2017




Indigenous Peoples

Press Contact Information

Name: Toledo Alcaldes Association

Telephone: +(501)6621663

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