Archive for June, 2011

Pew Environmental Group repeats untruths in support of MPA

Posted in conservation, CRG, MPA, Wikileaks on June 14th, 2011 by Mark Fitzsimons – 1 Comment

A recent article in the Guardian by Josh Reichert (Pew Environmental Group) in support of the Chagos Marine Protected Area (MPA) contained a number of untruths.

For example, in the second paragraph he states that since their expulsion, “the UK has maintained that the Chagossians have no right of abode on the islands.”  This is untrue as the right of return, which implies abode, was restored between Nov 2000 and June 2004 by Robin Cook (then Foreign Secretary), and overturned by Orders-in-Council.

In paragraph four, Reichert states that the “Pew Environment Group worked with a range of organisations and individuals – including Chagossians – to advocate its establishment as a highly protected marine reserve.” In fact, the Pew Environment Group worked with only one small group of UK-based Chagossians, the Diego Garcia Society, and made no contact with the Chagos Refugees Group. The latter is the largest group of islanders, based in Mauritius and led by Olivier Bancoult, who brought the case against the UK government to establish the right of return.

Later in the article he states that the “provisional government of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands support protected status for the Archipelago”. In fact, all Chagossians support an MPA but not one which excludes them from their homeland.

It is extermely disappointing that the Pew Group continues to peddle untruths to defend their position, particularly  now that the UK government’s cynical motivation for the creation of the Chagos MPA has been exposed.

News from the Chagos All-Party Parliamentary Group; Co-ordinator’s Summary

Posted in APPG, ConDem on June 9th, 2011 by Mark Fitzsimons – Be the first to comment

Photo: Gail Johnson

The Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 21st meeting on 8th June 2011.

Members discussed the follow-up to the Chagos Regagné Conference held on the 19th May 2011 at the Royal Geographical Society, London. They were grateful to Philippa Gregory, Ben Fogle and Roch Evenor for their considerable efforts in bringing together Chagossians and all those involved with Chagos. They noted that the Vice-Chairman, Andrew Rosindell MP, would be accompanying the organisers of the conference to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary on 27th June 2011.

The Group discussed on-going exchanges with the US Embassy concerning defence security, a complaint to the Parliamentary Ombudsman concerning maladministration and a  meeting with the Foreign Secretary at which the 3 main parties will be represented.

The Group agreed that matters should be brought before the Foreign Affairs Committee, Public Administration Committee and the Joint Select Committee on Human Rights. The Coordinator reported on a meeting with officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Negotiation and compromise

Posted in APPG, ConDem, Labour, Legal, Mauritius, MPA on June 5th, 2011 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

In an article in this week’s Mauritius Times, David Snoxell, who coordinates the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Chagos, argues that negotiation and compromise offer the only way out of the current impasse between the British and Mauritian governments.

The UK government faces a protracted legal battle as a result of the previous government’s decisions in 2004 and 2010 to use royal orders to overturn a court decision in favour of the islanders’ right to return, and to introduce a marine reserve that made resettlement all but impossible.

The Orders in Council of 2004 are being challenged by the Chagossians at the European Court of Human Rights, while the creation of the Marine Protected Area is now subject to a judicial review, as well as being challenged by Mauritius at the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Instead of getting bogged down in endless legal battles, Snoxell says matters could be resolved more quickly, more easily and more fairly in bilateral talks. “The onus rests with the British government,” he writes. “They could propose to Mauritius a resumption of the 2009 bilateral talks which Mauritius suspended over the MPA row, but this time with the aim of reaching an across the board resolution of the issues. The future of the islands and that of the Chagossians, the right of return, the MPA and sovereignty cannot be excluded from the agenda and ministers must be engaged… The only sensible way forward is through negotiation and compromise.”