Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group meeting: Coordinator's Summary
Thanks as ever to David Snoxell, Coordinator of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, for the below summary.
Everyone at UK Chagos Support Association adds their condolences to the friends and family of the recently deceased Lord Judd.
The Chagos Islands (BIOT) APPG held its 83rd meeting on 19 May. The Group expressed sadness at the death of one of its members, Lord Judd, a former FCO minister, who had long supported the Chagossian cause.
Members considered answers to PQs and Questions since the last meeting on 24 March. They felt that answers continued to reiterate standard mantra, suggesting a lack of willingness to resolve the issues. The Answer to Questions by the Chairman Andrew Rosindell MP and Baroness Whitaker on what plans the Government had to negotiate a settlement with Mauritius was little different from the UK's standard right of reply deployed twenty years ago.
A meeting with Lord Ahmad has had to be postponed due to diary clashes but it is hoped that this will take place before the summer recess. The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) still intended to publish a report on Chagos but the modialites were not yet completely agreed.
Members noted that there had been no reply to the Chairman's letter of 9 April to the Foreign Secretary concerning the potential application to Chagos of the Integrated Review on Foreign Policy, Defence, Security and International Development published on 16 March and the subsequent Defence Command Paper. The Government's reluctance to abide by international law over the future of Chagos and the Chagosians was in sharp contrast to its championing of international law, human rights and Law of the Sea in the Review. The same contradictions arose with the principles agreed by the G7 Foreign Ministers in their Communiqué at their meeting in London on 4-5 May. The G7 Summit from 11-13 June in Cornwall could provide a forum for the UK to reconcile these obvious inconsistencies.
The Coordinator reported that a reply to the Chairman's letter of 15 December to President Biden would be received shortly.
There was no news concerning the application to the Supreme Court to hear an appeal in the Horeau and Bancoult case. Further litigation concerning a case in the names of Bernard Nourrice and Solomon Prosper (Chagossians in Seychelles) to the Supreme Court of BIOT for compensation for loss of indigenous fishing rights was noted.
It was also noted that in accordance with UNGA resolution 73/295 the Universal Postal Union was to consider a proposal by its Administration Council to recognise Chagos as an integral part of Mauritius, at its 27th Congress in August in Abidjan. This would result in BIOT postage stamps no longer being valid and Mauritius becoming legally responsible for the operation of international mail processing from Chagos.
Henry Smith MP informed the Group that he would try to amend the forthcoming Border Control Bill so that it dealt with the nationality anomalies which prevented Chagossians from bringing family members to the UK under the current immigration rules. A submission to the Home Office by Olivier Bancoult on behalf of the Chagossian communities in Mauritius, Seychelles and UK on this matter had been circulated to the APPG.
The next meeting of the Group is 14 July.