Crawley

42nd Meeting of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group – Co-ordinator’s Summary

Posted in APPG, CCT, conservation, Crawley, CRG, FCO, resettlement, Uncategorized, William Hague on June 5th, 2014 by Mark Fitzsimons – Be the first to comment

Photo: Gail Johnson

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its postponed 42nd meeting on 4 June. The Group sent their best wishes to Lord Avebury for a speedy recovery.

The Group considered the Parliamentary Questions and Answers, tabled since the last meeting, by Lord Avebury and Andrew Rosindell concerning the latest scientific evidence on sea levels (“Contemporary sea level in the Chagos Archipelago, Central Indian Ocean” published in Global and Planetary Change, 2012, volumes 82-83, pages 25-37), on the applicability of FOI and EIRs to BIOT and on the Feasibility Study. They also took note of the Chairman’s intervention on BIOT in the Overseas Territories (Sustainability) debate on 8 May and his follow-up letter to the Minister concerned.

Members discussed the progress of the feasibility study as described in KPMG’s April Report and the preparations for the consultation with the Chagossians this month. They were concerned that Chagossians should be properly assisted in these consultations and were pleased to note the help already provided by Richard Dunne. They paid tribute to Mr Dunne for all the legal and scientific work he had done over the last 4 years on behalf of the Chagossians and conservation. While noting that the study seemed to be moving ahead with momentum in an open and transparent way the Group reiterated their wish to have the report by January in order for it to be considered and debated by Parliament before Ministers made decisions. They looked forward to discussions with Mark Simmonds, the FCO Minster responsible, at their next meeting on 15 July. The last such discussions were with the Foreign Secretary in December 2011.

The Group was updated on the Court of Appeal judgment (23 May) which had upheld the judgment of the High Court except in regard to the admissibility of the wikileak evidence which the Court did not find was in conflict with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. An appeal to the Supreme Court was under consideration. Members were also informed that the Mauritian case at an international Arbitral Tribunal in Istanbul (22 April-6 May) would not announce its findings until later this year. They took note that the judgment of the First Tier Tribunal (Information Rights) of a case concerning the applicability of FOI/EIRs to BIOT would not be available for several weeks.The Group asked what the cost to the tax payer of this continuing litigation was. There was also the possibility that the Law Lords 2008 judgment could be referred to the Supreme Court because of an alleged miscarriage of justice.

The Group considered a letter which Olivier Bancoult had received from the Chief Executive of the Passport Office concerning eligibility for British citizenship. They were pleased to note that the Passport Office accepted that there had been an error over Jean Hilare’s passport which should have been granted for ten not five years, and that this would be rectified.

A letter from Prof Charles Sheppard, Chairman of CCT, to members was discussed. They were pleased to note that the official position of CCT was now “strictly neutral” on the issue of resettlement. They hoped that CCT’s excellent conservation work would no longer be seen as in conflict with the aspiration of all Chagossians to return to the Islands for residence or visits.

It was noted that the tenth anniversary of the Orders in Council, banning the Chagossians from returning to their homeland, was on 10 June. The Group hoped that the result of the Feasibility Study would be the withdrawal of those Orders which had led to so much distress, litigation and cost.

The next meeting and sixth AGM will be on 15 July 2014.

Hague ‘should say sorry to the Chagos islanders and let them return’

Posted in APPG, Crawley, CRG, ECHR, FCO, Legal, MPA, Parliament, Wikileaks, William Hague on December 26th, 2012 by Mark Fitzsimons – Be the first to comment

So says Dr Sean Carey, a research fellow at the University of Roehampton, UK, in an article for The Independent. The article was written in the wake of the seven-judge chamber of the European Court of Human Rights deciding by majority that the case regarding the right of return of the exiled Chagos Islanders was inadmissible.

The article charts the campaign for justice waged by the Chagossians over the years, and the tactics used by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to block them, the most recent being the creation of a Marine Protected Area.

The article concludes:

“Although recent UK governments have expressed “regret” about the past, it is very revealing that no formal apology has been made to the Chagossians. Irrespective of the decision of the Strasbourg court, on moral and ethical grounds, it is time for a change in tone and policy. That should include a debate in Parliament in the New Year, and the Foreign Secretary working in close collaboration with the Chagos All Party Parliamentary Group. William Hague should also take the opportunity to invoke the spirit of William Wilberforce by apologising for the mistakes of previous UK governments and allow the islanders to return to their homeland.”

Charlezia Alexis dies aged 79

Posted in Crawley, CRG, personal on December 16th, 2012 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

Charlézia Alexis (Photo: L’Express)

Charlezia Alexis, the passionate Chagossian campaigner and singer, died this morning aged 79.

Illegally evicted from her homeland along with hundreds of others by the British authorities in the 1960s, Charlezia was one of the founders of the Chagos Refugees Group, campaigning to be allowed to return. She died in the UK having spent half her life in exile.

Her death follows that of Lisette Talate, who died aged 70 last year.

Charlezia’s funeral will take place in the UK, and a special mass will be held by the CRG in Mauritius.

If the British government continues to stand in the way of resettlement, more like Charlezia and Lisette will die without being able to see their home again.

Read L’Express’ coverage here.

Chagos football team on ITN

Posted in Crawley, Football on December 11th, 2011 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment



Click here to see ITN Meridian Tonight’s report on the Chagos football team keeping their community spirit alive.

Young Chagossian drummers win music award

Posted in Crawley, events on November 13th, 2011 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

The Ifield Community College Chagossian drummers have won the music award at this year’s Crawley Youth Awards.

The drummers have played music from their community to a wide audience, performing for many local charities and at community and civic events. They have performed all over the UK, including in London, Manchester and Birmingham.

They performed at Chichester Cathedral with the Ifield Community College Choir, the BBC Singers and the West Sussex Youth Orchestra, and took part in the Let the Peoples Sing choral festival, which was broadcast on BBC radio.