Archive for February, 2012

Chagos MPA ‘unenforceable’

Posted in conservation, CRG, FCO, Legal, Mauritius, MPA, Uncategorized on February 27th, 2012 by Mark Fitzsimons – Be the first to comment

So contends Peter Sand, a leading environment lawyer who has written extensively on Chagos legal issues. In an article recently published in the Journal of Environment and Development, Sand comments that the unilateral enactment of the MPA disregarded “the legitimate interests both of other states and of the people directly concerned” and that it “remains unenforceable under UNCLOS article 73″.

More on A Few Man Fridays

Posted in Uncategorized on February 22nd, 2012 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

Adrian Jackson, writer and director of A Few Man Fridays, and Sabrina Jean of the Chagos Refugees Group appeared on Radio 4’s Midweek today discussing the play and the history behind it.

There are also reviews of A Few Man Fridays in Time Out and The Sunday Times (£).

The play is on at Riverside Studios until 10 March.

Guardian coverage of A Few Man Fridays

Posted in Uncategorized on February 19th, 2012 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment

Brian Logan reviews A Few Man Fridays in the Guardian. Nothing in the story, Logan says, “is as potent as the real-life testimonies of the dispossessed Chagossians, which form the play’s disturbing centrepiece”.

There was also a piece by Lyn Gardner on Thursday looking at the historical context of the play, and interviewing writer-director Adrian Jackson. Jackson questions the way the Chagossians’ rights have been pitted against environmental concerns, asking: “Is the footprint of the Chagossians great than that of the US military base and the yachters who visit the area?”

The play is on at Riverside Studios in Hammersmith until 10 March.

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group: Co-ordinator’s Summary of 27th Meeting

Posted in APPG, FCO, Legal, MPA, Parliament, Uncategorized, William Hague on February 12th, 2012 by Mark Fitzsimons – 1 Comment

Photo: Gail Johnson

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 27th meeting on 1 February 2012.

The Group took stock of the meeting with the Foreign Secretary on 15 December (reported in the last summary) and the replies of FCO Ministers to subsequent  Parliamentary Questions and letters from the Group. It was clear that the FCO was unable to provide Ministers with drafts that addressed the substance of those letters. Answers to questions concerning the legal costs of fighting the litigation brought by the Chagos Islanders had elicited only partial information. What the Group would like to know was the full cost to the tax payer since 1999, including indirect and staff costs, of defending the cases. The Group  noted the Chairman’s intervention in the  Westminster Hall human rights debate on 26 January, chaired by Mr Rosindell, in which Mr Corbyn expressed the hope that the Government would abide by the decision of the ECHR in Strasbourg in the Chagos case. It was agreed that a parliamentary debate on Chagos, which the Chairman had asked for, was the next opportunity at which these issues could be raised.
The Group considered the prospects for progress in 2012, a year in which the eyes of the world are on the UK for the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. This was a fitting year in which to restore the human rights and dignity of the Chagossian people, many of whom are British and for whom the UK is responsible.  As 2015 is the 50th anniversary of the creation of BIOT and also the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Mauritius, 2015 was an obvious deadline for an overall settlement to aim for.This would follow discussions in 2014 on the renewal of the 2016 agreement with the US on the use of BIOT for defence purposes.
The Group discussed the events marking the 40th anniversary this year of the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage and considered the possibility of having the Chagos Archipelago designated a ‘natural area of outstanding universal value for the point of view of science, conservation or natural beauty’ (Article 2). It was noted that both the Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands had been designated as World Heritage sites, and that last year the UK had nominated the Turks and Caicos Islands. The Group thought that this would be an excellent development for Chagos but that, unlike the designation of the MPA,  it had to be done in conjunction with Mauritius and the Chagossian people. The Chairman was asked to write to the Foreign Secretary to suggest this.
It was reported that the Chairman (Jeremy Corbyn) and Vice Chairman (Andrew Rosindell) would meet the Home Office Minister, Damian Green, on 22 February to discuss immigration matters concerning Chagossians who do not meet the criteria for settlement in the UK.
Current legal actions at Strasbourg and the Judicial Review (JR) challenging the MPA were discussed. Leave to take the JR forward would be decided on 9 March. Other actions concerning a request to the FAC to extend the Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to BIOT and an appeal against the Information Commissioner were also discussed.
The group was informed about  ‘A Few Man Fridays’, a play about the deportation of the Chagos Islanders, to be performed at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith from 10 February to 10 March.The press night is 15 February to be attended by many involved with Chagos.
The date of the next meetings are  14 March and 2 May.

MPs call for Chagos to be nominated as World Heritage Site

Posted in Uncategorized on February 11th, 2012 by Robert Bain – Be the first to comment
Lagoon, Egmont Island (Photo: Karin Sinniger)

Lagoon, Egmont Island (Photo: Karin Sinniger)

Members of the all-party parliamentary group on Chagos have written to Foreign Secretary William Hague calling for the Chagos archipelago to be nominated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

World Heritage Sites are places deemed to be of special cultural or physical significance, including many historic buildings and natural features around the world. The Great Barrier Reef and the Galapagos Islands are both World Heritage Sites, and last year the UK nominated the Turks and Caicos Islands to become one.

This year is the fortieth anniversary of the UNESCO Convention.

Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, who chairs the all-party group, told Hague in a letter that nominating the Chagos archipelago for World Heritage Site status would be a fitting way to celebrate the anniversary and “a magnanimous gesture” by the Foreign Office.

Unlike the government’s decision in 2010 to make Chagos a marine reserve – which was made without properly consulting or winning the support of the Chagossian community or the Mauritian government – the nomination for World Heritage Site status could be pursued with the backing of all parties, Corybn said.

He asked Hague to consider the proposal “and to explore with Mauritius and the Chagossians a way of taking it forward”.