• Tom Guha

Chagos Citizenship Bill debate postponed

Last Friday (16 March) was the date given for the second reading of Henry Smith's British Indian Ocean (Citizenship) Bill. Unfortunately the debate did not go ahead and has been postponed until 27 April.

The first reading was on 16 January, when Mr Smith gave a ten minute speech to Parliament setting out the intention of the Bill.

If passed, the Bill would allow anyone of Chagossian descent to register as a British Overseas Territories Citizen - the citizenship status all Chagossians would have had the illegal exile not taken place half a century ago.

Current citizenship law for Chagossians is incredibly complex and confused. It has caused many Chagossian children in the UK grow up with the threat of deportation once they reach adulthood - back to a country where they have no historical connections and, often, no family or friends.

Our Patron, Benjamin Zephaniah, has written a compelling piece about once Chagossian's battle to keep her family together.

The second reading of the Bill is a chance for MPs to debate the main principles of the Bill. Passing second reading is just the second of many steps it takes for a Bill to become law.

It is difficult for a Bill introduced privately by an MP to become law, so we are calling on the Government to support Mr Smith's Bill.

Please ask your MP to back our campaign and put pressure on the Government to support Mr Smith's Bill.

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