Thursday, October 04, 2018

Chagossian immigration barriers are deplorable

Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs spokesperson Christine Jardine MP has today condemned the UK Government for failing to support the claims of third generation Chagossians for British citizenship, as the Guardian reveals Taniella Moustache from Milton Keynes faces deportation when she turns 20.

The Home Affairs Committee report on the Windrush generation recommends that the government support the British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill and “allow anyone who can prove that they are descended from a person born on the Chagos Islands to register as a British overseas territories citizen and thereby have a right to remain in the UK”.

Christine Jardine said:
“It’s utterly deplorable for the Home Office to consider splitting apart families who have already been torn away from their homes and communities. The very discussion shows they’ve failed to learn the lessons of Windrush.

“Taniella has lived in this country for years and has a bright future ahead of her here. It is outrageous that she is leaving school haunted by threats of deportation.

“Sajid Javid must wake up to the reality of the unjust policy he presides over. Descendants of Chagossian evictees must be granted British citizenship without barriers.

“He can’t put his head in the sand and hope to avoid the tidal wave of distress Chagossian families face as their children approach adulthood without the certainty of being able to stay in the country they were raised.

“The government must commit to support the BIOT bill without reservation. History has done a horrible wrong to the Chagossians and it is the Home Secretary’s duty to right that.”

The Home Affairs Committee’s Sixth Report of Session on the Windrush generation is available here.

In Sajid Javid’s apology to the Windrush generation he said: “The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are completely unacceptable and I am committed to righting the wrongs of the past”. The text of the Home Secretary’s Windrush apology can be found here.

The second reading of Henry Smith MP’s Private Member’s Bill -British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill is due to take place on 26th October 2018.

The U.K. granted the U.S. permission to build a military base on the largest of the Chagos Islands, Diego Garcia, in 1966, and issued an ordinance that made it unlawful for the islanders to remain on Diego Garcia. They were subsequently resettled. In 2000, the Divisional Court ruled that the ordinance expelling the Chagossians was unlawful. However, a 2002 study concluded that  resettling the islanders in their original home was infeasible, which led to a 2004 Order reaffirming the prohibition of settlement on the Chagos Islands. A challenge to the Order failed before the House of Lords in 2008, a decision which was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2016

The International Court of Justice in The Hague is currently hearing a claim to the archipelago by the government of Mauritius.

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