Chagos All Party Group meeting: Coordinator's Summary
The below summary is as ever provided by Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group coordinator David Snoxell. A statement issued by the group after the meeting can be found here.
The Group considered PQs and interventions since the last meeting on 22 May and the Westminster Hall debate on 3 July entitled "Chagos Islands: UN General Assembly Resolution" which had been obtained by the Vice Chairman Patrick Grady. Members were concerned by the quality of Answers and repetition of standard lines and felt that some of the language used was not conducive to a friendly settlement of the issues.
They were disturbed by the Government's lack of engagement with the urgent issues arising from UN resolution 73/295 (adopted by 116 to 6 with 56 abstentions) of 22 May, which endorsed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) Advisory Opinion, demanded the UK withdraw its colonial administration from the Chagos Archipelago unconditionally by 22 November, urged the UK to cooperate with Mauritius in facilitating resettlement and pose no impediment or obstacle to such resettlement.
Members were particularly dismayed by the unnecessary cancellation of the QBP (Queen's Birthday Party) in Mauritius on 5 June which was seen as an affront to a friendly Commonwealth nation whose Head of State had been for its first 24 years of independence HM The Queen. It was thought that this was the first time that a QBP had been cancelled in the Commonwealth for political reasons.
Members took note of the UK and Mauritius statements in the UNGA debate on 22 May and the Coordinator's critiques of HMG's statements in UNGA and Parliament (3 July). The Coordinator gave an account of his meetings in Mauritius, 3-17 June.
The APPG was pleased to learn that the Appeal Court had on 16 July decided to grant leave to appeal from the Judicial Review (Hoareau/Bancoult) of the Government's decision to reject resettlement in November 2016, which had failed in the High Court on 8 February, and noted that the Court accepted the grounds of appeal based on the ICJ Advisory Opinion of 25 February.
The Group issued the attached statement urging the Government to respect the will of the UN and ICJ Advisory Opinion, recommending urgent diplomatic discussions and the appointment by the next government of an independent special envoy to negotiate an agreement with Mauritius. Members looked forward to discussing the issues with the next Foreign Secretary and Minister of State.
The next meeting will be on 11 October.