The Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group have agreed a statement on the prospects of Chagossian resettlement of their homeland. Please find the statement below a brief summary of this evening’s meeting. Thanks as ever to voluntary co-ordinator of the APPG David Snoxell for providing both the summary and the statement.
Coordinator’s Summary of the 48th Meeting of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group
The Chagos Islands APPG held its 48th and final meeting of this Parliament on 23 March. The Group discussed the PQs tabled (not yet answered) and exchanges in the Commons with the Leader of the House and the Prime Minster since the last meeting on 23 February.
Members noted that their letter of 24 February to the Prime Minister had not yet been answered and nor had the Government’s anticipated statement to Parliament on the KPMG report been made.
The Group noted the progress that had been achieved since 2008 and agreed a statement on prospects for Chagossian resettlement and the future of the Chagos Islands (below) for release to the media and interested parties. It was decided that the Group would be re-established in the next Parliament and meet in early June.
Statement on 23 March 2015 issued by the Chagos Islands (BIOT) APPG on prospects for Chagossian resettlement and the future of the Chagos Islands.
The Chagos Islands (BIOT) All-Party Parliamentary Group was established in December 2008 to help bring about a resolution of the issues concerning the future of the Chagos Islands and of the Chagossian people. Considerable progress has been made towards this aim.
The KPMG report on the feasibility of resettlement, published last month, concluded that there were no legal obstacles to resettlement.
The Group held its 48thand final meeting of this Parliament on Monday 23 March 2015. In the absence so far of a statement by the Government on the KPMG report members concluded that:
1: Notwithstanding the period of purdah, between the dissolution of Parliament and the general election, the Government should consult and agree with the main political parties a statement on the future of the exiled Chagossian people to be made before the election, setting out the intentions of parties likely to form the next government.
2: The APPG believes that, following the KPMG study, there should be agreement to a pilot resettlement on Diego Garcia, work on which should begin immediately when the next government comes to office, with a view to the first settlers arriving in early 2016.
3: The APPG urges the political parties to seize this opportunity, during the year of the 800thanniversary of Magna Carta and the 50th anniversary of the creation of the British Indian Ocean Territory, to bring about a fair and just settlement to which Conservatives and Liberal Democrats were committed before the 2010 election, and rectify one of the worst violations of fundamental human rights perpetrated by the United Kingdom in the twentieth century.
4: The APPG considers that any renewal next year of the 1966 UK/US Agreement on the use of BIOT for defence purposes should be conditional on a commitment by both parties to facilitate and support resettlement.
5: The Group welcomes the Arbitral Tribunal’s conclusion of the international arbitration between the UK and Mauritius and its finding that the undertakings given by the UK in 1965 are legally binding in international law. It calls upon the Government to open discussions with Mauritius concerning fishing rights which until the declaration of the MPA were operated by Chagossian owned and operated vessels.
6: In consequence of the above finding which gives Mauritius an “interest in significant decisions that bear upon the possible use of the Archipelago” the APPG urges the Government to consult Mauritius over future arrangements both for the MPA and for the US base on Diego Garcia, and also on plans for the resettlement of Chagossians, in view of the facilities available on Diego Garcia. The Government should also draw on expertise and experience available in Mauritius.
7: The APPG will be re-established after the election and continue to promote its aim of an overall settlement of the issues.