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UK accused of “crimes against humanity” for not allowing people to return to Chagos islands, their ancestral home

Saturday, December 28th 2019 - 09:52 UTC
Full article 15 comments
Earlier this year, Mauritius won a major victory against UK when the International Court of Justice, ruled that the Chagos Islands should be handed over to Mauritius Earlier this year, Mauritius won a major victory against UK when the International Court of Justice, ruled that the Chagos Islands should be handed over to Mauritius
Mauritius Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, told the BBC that he was exploring the possibility of bringing charges against British officials at the ICC Mauritius Prime Minister, Pravind Jugnauth, told the BBC that he was exploring the possibility of bringing charges against British officials at the ICC

The UK has been accused of committing “crimes against humanity” for refusing to allow people to return to their former homes on the Chagos Islands, despite a ruling earlier this year by the United Nation's highest court.

Describing Britain's behavior as stubborn and shameful, the prime minister of Mauritius, Pravind Jugnauth, told the BBC that he was exploring the possibility of bringing charges of crimes against humanity against individual British officials at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“It is a violation of the basic principle of human rights. I fail to understand why Britain, this government, is being so stubborn,” said Mr Jugnauth.

Elderly Chagossians, living in Mauritius, have echoed that criticism and accused Britain of deliberately dragging its heels on the issue in the hope that the community will simply die out.

Earlier this year, Mauritius won a major victory against Britain when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled - in an advisory opinion - that the Chagos Islands should be handed over to Mauritius in order to complete its “decolonization.”  

The United Nations General Assembly then voted to give Britain a six-month deadline to begin that process. Britain has steadfastly refused to comply.

It is half a century since Britain took control of the Chagos Islands from its then colony, Mauritius, and evicted the entire population of more than 1,000 people in order to make way for an American military base - part of a secret deal negotiated behind Mauritius's back as it was seeking to secure independence from the UK.

“Britain has been professing, for years, respect for the rule of law, respect for international law… but it is a pity the UK does not act fairly and reasonably and in accordance with international law on the issue of the Chagos archipelago,” said Mr Jugnauth.

Philippe Sands, a lawyer representing the Mauritian government, said: “Britain is on the edge of finding itself as a pariah state.

”We now have a situation where Chagossians - a deported population, want to go back and have a right to go back. And the UK is preventing them from going back.

“Question - is that a crime against humanity? My response is that, arguably, it is.”

Britain continues to insist that the ICJ ruling is wrong. But it has apologized for its past treatment of the Chagossians and promised to hand the islands over to Mauritius when they are no longer needed for security purposes.

In a statement, Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) told the BBC: “The defense facilities on the British Indian Ocean Territory help protect people in Britain and around the world from terrorist threats and piracy.

”We stand by our commitment to cede sovereignty of the territory to Mauritius when it's no longer required for defense purposes.“

The FCO said Britain had pledged more than £40m to improve the livelihoods of Chagossians living in Mauritius, the Seychelles and the UK.

The UK has also begun to take small groups of Chagossians back to the archipelago for brief ”heritage“ visits. But in Mauritius, those tours have been condemned as a crude attempt to ”divide and rule“ the Chagos community.

”I boycott those trips. The British are trying to buy our silence. That's why we say our dignity is not for sale,“ said Olivier Bancoult, who heads the Chagos Refugees Group.

In a graveyard in the Mauritian capital, Port Louis, the graves of several Chagossians are marked with headstones mourning their failure to return to the islands.

”I fear my wish will not come true before I die - to see my motherland again,“ reads the script beside the grave of Mr Bancoult's mother, Marie Rita Elysee Bancoult.

”Every day, one by one, we're dying. I believe the British are waiting for us to die so there will be no one to claim the islands,“ said Liseby Elyse, 66, who was 20 when she left the archipelago.

”We're like birds flying over the ocean, and we have nowhere to land. We must keep flying until we die,” said 81-year-old Samynaden Rosemond

Categories: Politics, International.

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  • Pugol-H

    You can smell the greed oozing from every word this man speaks. “Born again” supporter of the Chagossian cause now is he???

    There are two issues here, connected but different.

    The handing over of the Chagos islands to Mauritius, when they are no longer needed. In reality when the lease runs out in just under 20 years. Which is what the Mauritians freely agreed to and accepted money for at the start. Where there is no EVIDENCE to the contrary.

    The right of the Chagossians to “return” to the Islands.

    Is Mr Jugnauth saying that under Mauritius control the Islanders would have a right to return?

    There is nothing in the ruling about any “return” whilst still under British control.

    Something for which the Chagossian have now twice been compensated for by the British following court rulings.

    The real issue being these Islands will soon to be classified as reefs, unable to sustain human habitation or separate economic activity. There is nothing to go back to, they are sinking beneath the waves.

    Mr Jugnauth is only interested in what can be extracted from there.

    Dec 30th, 2019 - 04:33 pm +1
  • Terence Hill

    The UK ..“crimes against humanity“. Jugnauth is guilty of hyperbole, and thus loses his argument before he's out of the gate.
    ”List of Crimes Against Humanity Murder/Extermination. Enslavement. Deportation., ...“ Kingdom
    ”(UK) claim is a violation of resolutions banning the dismemberment of colonial territories before independence.“ Resolutions are not compellable international law, merely advisements. Moreover, any such claim is barred as 'resjudica' ”The European Court of Human Rights has dismissed a case brought by Chagos Islanders.
    The court in Strasbourg ruled that the islanders’ case was inadmissible because the applicants had already been granted due legal process in Britain, The ruling said that by accepting financial compensation from the British government in the 1980s, the Chagossians, were no technically longer victims of human rights violations.
    Chagos Archipelago sovereignty dispute“
    https: //
    As did the Mauritian leaders, this makes their claim fraudulent, as they were already compensated. Thus, the rule of equity says: 'No one shall be permitted to profit by his own fraud' ”..the Mauritian leaders pressed the UK with respect to the compensation offered for the the Archipelago .. the UK did, however, increase the level of lump sum compensation on offer from £1 million to £3 million and introduced the prospect of a commitment that the Archipelago would be returned to Mauritius when no longer needed for defence purposes. ..The meetings culminated in the afternoon of 23 September 1965 (the “Lancaster House Meeting”) in a provisional agreement on the part of Sir Ramgoolam and his colleagues to agree in principle to the exchange for the SofS recommending certain actions by the United Kingdom to the Cabinet. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Dec 28th, 2019 - 04:43 pm 0
  • Terence Hill

    “On 22 May 2019, the United Nations General Assembly debated and adopted a resolution ...The world, through its legitimate voice that is the UN, have spoken to the UK” Once again, it is merely an advisement which is not binding on anybody.
    “..his convoluted piece in support of old-style, full-fledged colonialism” In your desperation you have failed to refute that the Chagos, and the Mauritians both reached legal binding agreements with the UK. You can, along with many Britons, may accuse the UK government of 'high-handedness'. But you cannot make case of colonialism, since there was an offer made, and an offer accepted. That compensation was made with a concluding clause, for the eventual return of the Island.
    What you have discovered, is that mystical area of 'national security'. In which there may be many times, which you disagree with the doctrine. But, I'm assured by political scientists, that it is considered part of 'Realpolitik, politics based on practical objectives rather than on ideals.'

    Dec 28th, 2019 - 10:28 pm 0
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