UK politically isolated from Europe in Chagos resettlement case, Seychelles’ group says

(Seychelles News Agency) – The United Nations resolution referring the UK to the International Court of Justice for a decision on the fate of the Chagos Islands is a positive development, the chair of the association in Seychelles said.

Residents of the Chagos Islands were removed from their homeland to other nations including Seychelles, Mauritius and the UK by the British government in the 1960s. The communities are still fighting for compensation and resettlement to their original land.

Pierre Prosper, the chair of the Association for Chagossians in the Seychelles, said Monday after last week’s U.N. resolution that “for the first time, the UK is politically isolated from its usual European supporters.”

“We hope this will have an impact going forward on judicial and political fronts,” Prosper said.

The International Court of Justice decisions will be based on issues related to resettlement of the islands and the fate of the islanders, Prosper added.

A committee within the association is looking at the possibility of legal and political representations in the International Court of Justice in the interest of the Chagos community in Seychelles.

File Photo: A group of original Chagossians who settled in the Seychelles after their eviction from the Chagos archipelago who went on a trip organised and sponsored by the British government in 2015. (Alvin Tirant) Photo License: CC-BY

Prosper said that meanwhile, the committee is going ahead with the next judicial review process in the UK High Court for resettlement, a case that should be lodged in the coming weeks. 

The chair of the local association explained that this case has to do with the British government’s decision against the resettlement of the British island territory according to a decision by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office in November last year.

The statement said that this was “on the grounds of feasibility, defence and security interests, and cost to the British taxpayer.

Because of all of the legal fees related to the cases, the group in Seychelles, a group of 115 islands in the western Indian Ocean, hopes to set up a crowd-funding mechanism to share costs.

“We hope to raise about £20,000 ($25,500 or 335,000 SCR) within the first 30 days. We look forward for a small contribution from all Seychellois, Chagossians or anyone else,” said Prosper adding that a website is being set up for this crowd justice mechanism.

Around 2,000 Chagossians were forcibly evicted from the Chagos archipelago when the UK leased the main island Diego Garcia to the U.S. to use as a military base in 1960. While the majority was exiled to Mauritius, 250 were deported to Mahe, the main island of Seychelles, between 1967 and 1973, when the country was still a British colony.

 An immigration order preventing anyone from going back was issued in 1971.The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth office statement noted that agreements to house the U.S. base on Diego Garcia will continue until December 2036.