Chagos All-Party Group call for compromise

Last week the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group released a statement calling for a compromise to end the fifty years of unjustifiable Chagossian exile. Below is the statement in full.

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its tenth AGM and 69th meeting on 13 June 2018.

The stated purpose of the Group, established in December 2008, is to help bring about a resolution of the issues concerning the future of the Chagos Islanders and the Chagos Islands.

Members felt that in nearly a decade the only progress towards fulfilling its purpose was that awareness of the plight of the Chagos Islanders had been substantially raised in Parliament and public. Over the years the Group has made several proposals to Government for resolving the issues. At its last meeting on 16 April the Group was addressed by the Prime Minister of Mauritius who emphasised his support for Chagossian resettlement and a negotiated settlement with the UK on the future of BIOT.

The Group focused on what would enable the Chagossians, Mauritius and the UK to agree to an overall settlement of the issues. As it is nearly 53 years since BIOT was created and 19 years since the recent litigation began the Group considered that a settlement was long overdue and very much in the wider national interest and that of the UK’s international reputation.

Members believe that a compromise is essential. It must provide for the implementation of the UK’s human rights obligations to the Chagossians and the restoration of the right of abode and some form of resettlement. It would need to encompass an agreement with Mauritius on the future of BIOT. The operation of the joint UK/US base on Diego Garcia needs to be safeguarded and continuing measures to protect the environment and conservation of the Archipelago agreed.

The Group has noted the UN General Assembly’s request to the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion on the legal consequences of the separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 and on a resettlement programme. Since the ICJ is expected to deliver an Opinion by the end of March 2019 the Group cannot pre-empt what the Court might decide. It was felt that focussing on the potential for compromise in the light of an Advisory Opinion may now be the best way forward. Members thought it highly unlikely that the UK, a founding pillar of the ICJ and the international legal system, would ignore an Opinion of the World’s Court.

The Group recommends that in the meantime the parties should consider the concessions they could envisage in order to achieve an overall settlement.

The APPG is happy to work with the parties concerned to help bring about a successful conclusion.

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