• Tom Guha

Ask your MP to back fair citizenship law for Chagossians

In January this year, Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, introduced a vital Bill to the House of Commons that would prevent Chagossian families in the UK from being split up by unfair and confused citizenship legislation.

Below is a draft letter, which you can copy, paste, edit and send to your MP to ask them to support this important campaign.


The story of the Chagos Islanders is a blight on our country's history. After being forcibly exiled from their homeland by the British Government half a century ago, successive Governments have continued to deny them the right of return.

In January this year, Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, brought forward a crucial Bill that would give the community some measure of justice. His proposals would allow anyone of Chagossian descent to register as a British Overseas Territories Citizen, the citizenship status all Chagossians would have today had they not been exiled.

In 2016, the Government announced their decision against a pilot resettlement scheme. In so doing, Ministers sought "to look forward, not back" and unveiled a £40 million funding package to improve the lives of Chagossians where they are now.

If they are serious about their intentions, the Government must support Mr Smith's Bill. Current citizenship law for Chagossians is confused and unfair.

Following a change in law in 2002, native Chagossians and the first generation born in exile gained access to British citizenship. However, when using their rights to settle in this country, many of them brought with them their children who, mainly born in Mauritius or the Seychelles, are regarded by the Home Office as immigrants like any other. Chagossian families struggle to pay the immigration fees and many Chagossian children have been detained or deported once they reach adulthood.

The Bill does not answer all of the Chagossians' problems. But it does simplify the law and lower barriers to access for British citizenship to this community who were once British subjects.

The Bill was sponsored by an MP from every party represented in Parliament. It was due its second reading on 16 March, which unfortunately did not happen.

As a constituent of yours, I am writing to you to ask the Government to support Mr Smith's Bill. I hope I can count on you to do so.



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