New petition calls for British Citizenship rights for all Chagossians
Updated: Apr 29, 2021
Chagossian Community platform Chagossian Voices have launched a new petition which urges the UK government to grant British citizenship to all descendents of people born on the Chagos Islands.
The petition coincides with Chagossian Voices' submission in response to the New Plan for Immigration, a recently released government plan currently open for responses in an official consultation. The New Plan for Immigration outlines a series of proposed changes to UK immigration and citizenship law.
The New Plan for Immigration currently does not mention Chagossians directly, but Chapter 3 does include a commitment to "Ending Anomalies and Delivering Fairness in British Nationality Law." This chapter does include a number of changes related to those people born in British Overseas Territories.
The Chagossian Voices response argues the aim of "delivering fairness" this can only be achieved if all those descended from people born on the Chagos Islands have a simple and affordable path to British citizenship.
Currently, the grandchildren of those people born on the Chagos Islands do not have an entitlement to British citizenship. This is because their grandparents were forced to leave the islands under UK government orders. Had this not happened, a Chagossian community living on the islands today would enjoy a relatively simple path to UK citizenship.
As successive UK governments have acknowledged the deportations of the Chagossians people in the 1960s and 1970s were "wrong" and a "matter of sincere regret", the petition argues the New Plan for Immigration presents a chance to return to the Chagossian community the citizenship rights they were wrongly stripped of by these deportations.
Currently, professional estimates put the average cost of the grandchild of someone born on Chagos trying to acquire UK citizenship at over £10,000. This places a huge burden on Chagossian families and the whole community. The consequences are the continuing separation of families, severe financial and emotional hardship and even deportations from the UK for Chagossians.
Legal firm Fragomen have also prepared a response to the consultation which outlines a legal change that would give all people descended from someone born on the Chagos Islands a simple and affordable path to UK citizenship. The measures proposed are similar to the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill proposed by Crawley MP Henry Smith in 2018.
We will have further details on the consultation and how you can respond to it in the next few days. Until then, click here to sign the Chagossian Voices petition.