The Null Device

Chagos islanders' court victory

Britain's High Court has ruled that the government acted unlawfully when it expelled the inhabitants of the Chagos Islands to make way for the US base in Diego Garcia; the court also struck down a decision, made under the Royal Prerogative, preventing the islanders from returning:
"The suggestion that a minister can, through the means of an order in council, exile a whole population from a British overseas territory and claim that he is doing so for the 'peace, order and good government' of the territory is, to us, repugnant," the judges said. "The defendant's approach to this case involves much clanking of the 'chains of the ghosts of the past'."
"The British government has been defeated in its attempt to abolish the right of abode of the islanders after first deporting them in secret 30 years ago," said Richard Gifford, the lawyer representing the islanders. "The story of their forced removal, their sufferings in exile and their desperate struggle to return are described in detail in the judgment. The responsibility of our present government for victimising its own citizens and its subservience to the demands of a foreign power are all too obvious."
Mr Bancoult, who was displaced as a child, said: "Although we are a small people, we always had faith in our struggle. What the UK has done to us is unlawful and our aim is to return as soon as possible. We will look for help from everyone to go back. We had been living there for many generations and we now have the right to return to our birthplace. I personally think that the Queen should apologise."
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has 28 days to appeal.

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