Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group: Coordinator's Summary
Thanks are due as ever to group coordinator David Snoxell for the following summary of the latest meeting of the All-Party Group on the Chagos Islands.
Members took note of the answer to Patrick Grady's PQ on 23 October. The accuracy of the Answer was questioned by the Coordinator. They also noted the intervention by Peter Grant MP in the budget debate of 27 November in which he described the deportation of the Chagossians as ethnic cleansing and abduction and asked what account had been taken of their wishes.
Henry Smith MP informed the Group about his British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill which he was likely to table in the Commons in January under the Ten Minute Rule Bill, for which he was hoping for all party sponsorship. The purpose of the bill was to enable descendants of Chagossians born in the Chagos Islands to register as British Overseas Territories Citizens as if their families had not been removed from the Territory against their will. This would give them the same rights as citizens of all the OTs. Members agreed to support the bill.
Lord Luce reminded the Group that the 25th CHOGM Summit to be held in London in April would provide an opportunity for the Commonwealth to discuss resettlement and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) referral. That the US had no objections to resettlement made it easier for the UK to reach a compromise.
The Group discussed the decision of the UN General Assembly to refer Chagos to the International Court of Justice. They were mindful that the adoption by a considerable majority of resolution 71/292 of 22 June was a contributory factor in the UK failure to have its candidate re-elected in November to the ICJ. Members agreed the attached statement on the questions referred by UN General Assembly to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an Advisory Opinion. It was agreed that the Chairman would send it to the Registrar of the Court.
The APPG meeting was followed by a meeting, in their personal capacities, with Prof Philippe Sands QC at UCL and Alison Macdonald QC of Matrix Chambers, Counsel for Mauritius.They briefed the Group on the proceedings before the ICJ and their expectations for an Advisory Opinion.
A date for the next meeting will be circulated later.