Breaking: UK Court of Appeal dismisses Chagossian claim

The Court of Appeal today delivered it's verdict on a legal challenge brought by Chagossians to the 2016 UK government decision not to support Chagossian right of return to their homeland.

Judges ruled against the Chagossians, who had argued the 2016 decision not to support the right to return to their homeland was illegal. Details of the case, which was brought by Chagos Refugees Group co-founder Olivier Bancoult and Solange Hoareau, a Chagossian born on the islands exiled to the Seychelles, have today been published on the website.

Further background on the case can be read in our previous report on the hearings themselves, which took place in May 2020. We'll update this article with further reaction as we analyse the details of the judgement and hear further comment from those involved.

Reacting to the judgement, UK Chagos Support Association vice-chair Stefan Donnelly commented:

"We'll need to read the details of this judgement, but on the face of it this is a disappointing decision. But Chagossians will rightly never give up their struggle to restore the right to live in their homeland. Huge respect is due to Mr Bancoult and Madam Hoareau for their efforts on behalf of the community over many years."

"Regardless of the legal verdict today, the testimony of Chagossians throughout these proceedings, and the 20 years of legal cases that has proceeded them, demonstrates the inarguable moral right Chagossians have to their homeland. The simple facts of Chagossians experiences since the deportations of the 1960s and 1970s also demonstrate the failure of successive UK governments to deliver any meaningful support for a community their actions has devastated."

"It should not take a court verdict for the UK government to deliver a much belated measure of justice for Chagossians. Regardless of whether the failure to deliver a Chagossian return programme in 2016 was technically illegal, it was and remains immoral."

"Ministers should immediately look to implement the Chagossian resettlement programme they admitted was feasible in 2016. Ministers should also take this opportunity to give the grandchildren of those Chagossian deportees living in the UK a path to British citizenship, which is too often still denied to them as a direct consequence of the deportations of the 1960s and 1970s, by adopting the measures outlined in Henry Smith MP's British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) BIll. Meaningful compensation, that acknowledges decades of hardship caused by the deportation, should also be agreed in direct consultation with the Chagossian community"

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