Home Affairs Committee urge Ministers to reform citizenship law for Chagos Islanders

July 3, 2018

 

In their report published today, the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee describes Chagossians as being "unfairly affected by UK immigration policies" and points out that, "perversely, had Chagossians remained on the Chagos Islands and not been forced to reside elsewhere, such as in the UK, they would all be entitled to register as British citizens today."

 

The report, entitled Windrush Children, recommends the Government, "Support Henry Smith MP’s Private Member’s Bill and allow anyone who can prove that they are descended from a person born on the Chagos Islands to register as a British overseas territories citizen and thereby have a right to remain in the UK". 

 

Henry Smith is the MP for Crawley, which houses the largest Chagossian community in the UK. He presented his Private Member's Bill to Parliament in January, which would allow anyone of Chagossian descent to register as a British Overseas Territories Citizen. 

 

The cross-party committee is Chaired by Yvette Cooper. The Government now have a statutory responsibility to consider and respond to the report. 

 

The Secretary of State Sajid Javid has already met with Henry Smith MP to discuss his Bill, in a meeting described as positive by Mr Smith.

 

Commenting on the report, Tom Guha, Chair of the UK Chagos Support Association, said: 

 

"It is clear now that the Government must act. Current immigration policy treats Chagossians appallingly and it is about time the Government saw sense and backed proposals for reform. 

 

"We are pleased that the Home Affiars Committee recognise the need for reform. It is now time for the Government to stop stalling and fix this mess." 
 

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