Supreme Court to make Chagos judgement on Thursday
The Supreme Court will this Thursday make a judgement on whether the UK government acted improperly in establishing a Marine Protected Area around the Chagos Islands in 2010. The challenge is being brought by Oliver Bancoult, Chairperson of the Chagos Refugees Group.
Evidence was heard on 29 June 2017, and now a verdict will be delivered on Thursday 8 February.
The creation of the Marine Protected Area in 2010 has become controversial, owing to documents released by Wikileaks in which a US diplomat reports that Chagossians would find it "difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement" if the Marine Protected Area was created.
In a previous legal challenge, the Court of Appeal found however that this leaked cable was not admissible as evidence. This is one of the decisions Mr Bancoult has brought to the Supreme Court.
The challenge also contends that the Court of Appeal was mistaken to conclude that the Secretary of State at the time (David Miliband) was not personally motivated by an improper purpose.
Also contended in the challenge is that the UK did not properly consult with Mauritius, which has a sovereignty claim over the Chagos Islands, regarding fishing rights in the Chagos Islands. Many Chagossian fishermen, making a life in exile in Mauritius, lost their right to fish in waters of the Chagos Islands following the creation of the Chagos Marine Protected Area.
Commenting on the case, UK Chagos Support Association Vice-Chair Stefan Donnelly noted "Chagossians are more aware than anyone of the environmental value of their homeland, and a returned community would be staunch defenders of the unique Chagos Islands eco-system. Indeed, they could benefit environmental protection by acting as monitors, wardens and enforcers, as without a population the current MPA is highly difficult to enforce in reality."
"But the Supreme Court on Thursday will give us a chance to look at important questions about the conduct and the motivations of the UK government when the Chagos Islands Marine Protected Area was set up. Chagossians basic human rights to live in their homeland can not be ignored under any pretence."
Chagossians will at the Supreme Court to hear the verdict, due at 09:45 AM on Thursday. Please join us if you can and offer your support. Full details of the case can be found on the Supreme Court website.