European court says it has ‘no jurisdiction’ on Chagos case
The Chagossians and their supporters throughout the world are saddened and shocked that a seven-judge chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has after eight years, by a majority ruling, decided that it does not have jurisdiction to give judgment on the case of the Chagos Islanders and that the case is therefore inadmissible. The Court concluded that the Chagossians had no right of individual petition.
The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights guarantees that no one shall be subject to inhuman or degrading treatment. It is obvious to all right-thinking people that depriving the Chagossian people, for whom Britain was responsible, of their homes, livelihoods and homeland and deporting them 40 years ago, was a grievous violation of their fundamental human rights. This was compounded as late as 2004 by Privy Council Orders, a means by which Parliament was bypassed. The Orders overturned a November 2000 High Court judgment and the decision by Foreign Secretary Robin Cook to restore the right to return to the Outer Chagos Islands. It is inconceivable that parliament would have agreed to deprive the Chagossians of this fundamental birthright.
What happened has been described by English courts as shameful, an abuse of power, repugnant, deplorable and unlawful. Strasbourg also concluded that this was “the callous and shameful treatment which they… suffered from 1967 to 1973, when being expelled from, or barred from return to, their homes on the islands and the hardships which immediately flowed from that”. In 2008 two of the five Law Lords held that without the authority of parliament these Orders were unlawful, anachronistic and against the principles of democracy. Lord Bingham, presiding, said that there was “no (other) instance in which the royal prerogative had been exercised to exile an indigenous population from its homeland”.
Now that the European Court of Human Rights has decided that it does not have jurisdiction we appeal to the coalition government to stand by their pre-election promises to bring about a just and fair settlement to one of the great tragedies of the twentieth century, perpetrated by the UK on the defenceless – the brutal removal of an entire people from their homeland and their way of life, into a life of exile, poverty and hardship. We expect our Government to reflect the British sense of fair play and to ensure that the same basic human rights apply to Chagossians, who are British, as apply to the people in the UK. As the Foreign Secretary himself has said, “The British public expects its Government to act with moral integrity.”