Foreign Affairs Committee calls for change in nationality law that could help Chagossians

April 7, 2019

 

 

 

Foreign Affairs Committee latest report

 

Right now Chagossians in the UK - particularly the grandchildren of those born on the Chagos Islands - often face long, expensive legal battles to win the right to stay in the UK, even if they've lived and grown up in the country for many years.

 

 

 

This is because the right to UK citizenship only passes down one generation. So the children of those who were deported have the right to British Overseas Territory citizenship - and so a cheaper and simpler path to British citizenship - but the grandchildren of those deported do not.

 

Of course had the deportations not happened, those now threatened with deportation from the UK would have the same rights to British citizenship as their grandparents.

 

Although the report does not mention Chagossians specifically, the report recognises that it has taken "too long to resolve" a number of issues that have led to unclear and inconsistent citizenship status for those born in British Overseas Territories,

 

The report also notes that fathers can not pass on their citizenship to children born outside the Overseas Territories between 1948 and 2006, if they were not married to the child's mother at the time. Many representatives agreed this was unfair and needed reform, and reforms would certainly benefit the Chagossian community as well.

 

The government could also address issues specifically affecting Chagossians by backing Henry Smith's British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill. The bill proposes that the law is changed to allow Chagossians the same rights to British citizenship as they would have had if the deportations had not happened. Jeanette Valentin, a Chagossian whose daughter have been threatened with deportation, has started a petition on 38 Degrees asking the government to back the Bill - you can still sign here.

 

Lord Ahmed, the Foreign Office Minister responsible for Overseas Territories like the Chagos Islands, said "discussions across government are ongoing" about these issues. Henry Smith has also previously with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and former Home Secretary Amber Rudd to discuss the reform.

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