New UK Ministers take responsibility for Chagos Islands
The UK's new Prime Minister Boris Johnson has now appointed a full set of Ministers, with many new faces taking up responsibilities directly related to the future of the Chagos Islands and the Chagossian people.
The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson:
Having served as Foreign Secretary for two years between July 2016 and July 2018, Mr Johnson has already had some experience dealing with issues around the Chagos Islands and the Chagossian people.
As Foreign Secretary, he was responsible for the extremley disappionting decision not to support a Chagossian resettlement programme in 2016. Despite an indepedent, government-commissioned study acknowledging such a scheme could be feasible.
Following the decision, Mr Johnson did meet with a number of Chagossians, as Ministers prepared to deliver a promised £40m Support Package. The package has so far delivered minimal benefit for Chagossians, with only £318,000 spent, almost all on 'Heritage Trips' to the Chagos Islands.
Speaking in Parliament in 2017, Mr Johnson also promised to be as "humane as possible" and address "justified compliants" of the community.
As Foreign Secretary, he also commented several times on the sovereignty dispute between Mauritius and the UK over the Chagos Islands. This remains a live issue, following the UN General Assembly vote calling on the UK to cede sovereignty by October 2019.
As a politican with significant recent experience on this issue, Boris Johnson has an opportunity to take a lead in delivering justice - including the right to return to the Chagos Islands - for the Chagossian people.
Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab
Dominic Raab has been appointed Foreign Secretary, with overall responsbility for the Chagos Islands. He has not previously commented on the Chagos Islands in public to our knowledge.
We'd urge him to meet with the community as soon as possible to learn more about their campaign for justice and immediate needs in the UK.
Foreign Office Minister with responsibility for the Chagos Islands, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon
The Minister with specific responsbility for the Chagos Islands - and all British Overeseas Territories - has remained the same. Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon has been in his role since July 2017.
With his experience of his the role and the community, he should be in a position to deliver a fair deal for the Chagossian community. He could start by making much more rapid progress on delivering the promised £40m Support Package, and addressing some of the huge issues the community faces in the UK and around the world.
Home Secretary, Priti Patel
Previous Home Secretary Amber Rudd discussed Henry Smith's Chagos Citizenship Bill with the Conservative MP for Crawley. This proposed legal change would deliver a clear, simplfied and much more simple path for Chagossians to access UK citizenship.
Previous Ministers has pledged to "seriously consider" the change, but have yet to make any firm commitments. Ms Patel has not previously commented on the Chagos Islands to our knowledge.
We'd urge the new Home Secretary to make this an immediate prioirty. In recent weeks, more stories have emerged about Chagossians threatened with deportation. The Home Secretary should take urgent action to stop the community suffering from further cruel family seperations and huge legal fees.
Other political changes: Jo Swinson becomes Liberal Democrat leader
Another major political development in the UK has been the election of Jo Swinson MP as Leader of the Liberal Democrats.
Ms Swinson has spoken out on behalf of the Chagossian people in the past, even leading a Westminster Hall debate calling for their right to return in 2010.
We hope Ms Swinson will continue to speak out on behalf of the Chagossian people, at what is now a crucial time in the history of the community.