• David Snoxell

Chagos Islands All-Party Group: Coordinator's Summary

Thanks are due to Chagos Islands All-Party Group coordinator David Snoxell for the below summary. The Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group is a collection of MPs and peers from all political parties who come together to work on issues related to the Chagos Islands and the rights of the Chagossian people.

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 71st meeting on 12 December. Lord Horam (Conservative) was welcomed as a new member. There are currently 51 members from all 7 political parties. Members took note of the Parliamentary Questions answered and parliamentary interventions concerning a range of Chagos issues, since the last meeting on 10 October.

As this was the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the APPG on 16 December 2008, with several of the original members present, the Group reviewed the progress made since then. While both the national and international profile of the Chagossian cause had been considerably raised only one of the APPG's original objectives had been met, a new feasibility study (KPMG 2015). Members reaffirmed the Group's purpose which is "to help bring about a resolution of the issues concerning the future of the Chagos Islands (BIOT) and the Chagossian people" and renewed their intention to continue to fight for the Chagossians and an overall settlement of the issues. A statement with ideas for moving forward was agreed. It will be available on 16 December.

Members discussed the current Judicial Review in the High Court of the Government's decision on 16 November 2016 to set aside the KPMG study and not to restore the right of return/abode or resettlement. They were pleased to learn from the proceedings that their understanding that the US was not opposed to resettlement in either Diego Garcia or the Outer Islands had been confirmed in a letter from the Under Secretary of State in the State Department of February 2015 to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) minister for Overseas Territories. US opposition had been a strong argument against resettlement deployed by the FCO since 2004. The other principle argument that resettlement was not feasible had been disproved by the 2015 KPMG study. Cost seemed now to be the main argument. The Group was also pleased to learn that according to the documents released to the JR the FCO and the Foreign Secretary had in 2015 conceded that Chagossians were a separate ethnic and racial group,which entrenches their claim that Chagos is their homeland.

The next meeting of the Group is on 13 February 2019

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