Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group Meeting: Coordinator’s Summary

APPGcPlease find below the Coordinator’s Summary of the 50th meeting of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group, which took place 15th July.

An accompanying statement was released to mark the 50th meeting of the group and reflect on developments during the group’s seven years of existence. UK Chagos Support Association would like to record our gratitude to all members of the group for their tireless efforts over the years, and thanks is as ever also due to voluntary group Coordinator David Snoxell for the below summary.

 

Coordinator’s Meeting Summary

 

The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group held its 50th meeting on 15 July. Two new members, Paul Monaghan MP (SNP) and Martyn Day MP (SNP) were welcomed. Alan Brown MP (SNP) was elected Secretary.

Members discussed the Answers to PQs and Questions since the last meeting on 3 June. They noted the letter from 16 members of the Group published in The Times on 10 June concerning Magna Carta and the exile of the Chagossians, urging the new Government to honour the 2014 feasibility study which found that there were no climatic or legal reasons why resettlement should not be achieved. There was no news on the further work on costs, liabilities and likely demand for resettlement being coordinated by the FCO. Members were concerned about the length of time this was taking, given that the KPMG study, commissioned in 2013, had been published on 12 February 2015, that the Government had not set a deadline for completion of the additional work and that there was only a week left to the parliamentary recess. The Group felt strongly that Parliament should be consulted about the outcome of this work before decisions on resettlement were taken.
The Group discussed the lack of progress in the implementation of the 18 March UNCLOS Tribunal Award. They understood that following the Award FCO Ministers had written to the Mauritian Government to propose discussions on the marine conservation of BIOT but since the Tribunal had found the proclamation of the MPA to be in breach of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and that Mauritius had legally binding rights to fish in Chagos waters, to the eventual return of the Archipelago and to the benefit of any minerals or oil discovered, members were not surprised that Mauritius had not responded. Clearly Mauritius would expect to discuss the entire Award with the UK, as directed by the Tribunal. Members hoped that the FCO would be charged with taking forward these discussions as soon as possible.
The Supreme Court hearing on 22 June of an application for a review of the 2008 House of Lords majority verdict, which ruled that the 2004 Orders in Council, depriving Chagossians of their right of abode were lawful, was discussed. The Group noted that a judgment was possible before the Court’s summer recess and hoped that it would be in favour of the Chagossians.
As this was the 50th meeting of the Group since it was established in December 2008, Members considered what progress had been made towards bringing about a resolution of the issues concerning the future of the Chagossians and of the Chagos Islands. They felt that six and a half years was a long time to get to the current position but that some progress had been made, not least with the commissioning of the KPMG study and the application to the Supreme Court. They decided to issue the attached statement.
The next meeting of the Group will be on 14 October.

Leave a Reply