Last month coordinator of the All-Party Group on the Chagos Islands David Snoxell gave a wide ranging interview on the future of the Chagos Islands, including his thoughts on how Chagossians could still win return to their homeland.
Speaking to Mauritian current affairs magazine Weekly, Mr Snoxell, also a former High Commissioner to Mauritius, states Chagossians “right of abode is fundamental and remains inalienable.” He argues that even if the government refuses to support a resettlement programme, as a “confidence building measure” Ministers should restore Chagossians right to live in their homeland.
This, he states, would be the “decent thing to do,” considering Chagossians rights were originally taken away not by Parliament but the obscure Privy Council process. He also notes Chagossians did actually have the right of abode restored between 2000 and 2004 for all islands except Diego Garcia, so this would not unprecedented or unworkable.
The decision late last year not to support a resettlement programme was though, he suggests, highly regrettable. The arguments presented as justifying the decision by Ministers, such as cost and security, had he states had been shown not to be valid.
Other topics discussed by Mr Snoxell include future legal challenges to the government’s decision not to support a return programme. As Mr Snoxell notes, Chagos Refugees Group leader Oliver Bancoult has launched a judicial review of that decision, which will argue the decision did not have legal basis. He states, finance permitting, the case should be heard before the end of the year.
The issue of the UK-Mauritius sovereignty dispute over the Chagos Islands is also discussed in detail in the article. Mr Snoxell suggests that a co-management deal between the two nations could be a successful way forward, especially with the outer islands of the Chagos Archipelago (all except Deigo Garcia).
Mauritius has stated that they will raise their sovereignty claim over the islands with the UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice is a satisfactory agreement is not reached by the summer. The Mauritian government has committed to supporting Chagossians to return to their homeland.
UK Chagos Support Associaition does not take any position on the future sovereignty of the Chagos Islands, other than to say it is a decision which should be led by the Chagossian community themselves.
As ever we thank Mr Snoxell for raising the profile of the ongoing Chagossian struggle by discussing it with the media, as well as his extensive work with politicians in the UK Parliament to help fight Chagossians corner.