25 July, 2007

Chagos Islands

July Update. The Chagos Support Association writes in its July Update that its members are deeply disappointed at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to ask leave to Appeal to the House of Lords. This is their fourth appeal and justice delayed is justice denied. We expect better from a government who make a big issue of human rights.

The actual lodging of the appeal came at the very last possible moment and two days after the following letter appeared in the Guardian Newspaper:

“We applaud Gordon Brown's proposal to review uses of the royal prerogative and hope he won't let government lawyers undermine it. Within days, they could ask the Lords to deny the Chagos islanders their right to return to their homeland (Leaders, May 24). Under a bilateral agreement, the US maintains a base on Diego Garcia; but that is 150 miles to the south of the other islands of the Chagos archipelago. On May 23, the court of appeal struck down as unlawful the 2004 orders in council banning the Chagossians from their islands, calling them "an abuse of power". If this appeal proceeds, Mr Brown's administration will be attempting to govern the overseas territories without parliamentary oversight or the possibility of judicial review. After three defeats in the courts, why waste more money on losing an argument he says he doesn't believe in?”

This was signed by : Robert Bain (UK Chagos Support Assoc), Clive Baldwin (Minority Rights Group International), Dr. Vincent Cable MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, Tam Dalyell, Geoffrey Fairhurst (Administrator, Ascencion 1999-2002), Andrew George MP, Richard Gifford (Solicitor for Chagossians), Baroness Ludford MEP, Don Mitchell QC (Anguilla), Bernice Olsson (Legislative Council, St. Helena), David Snoxell (High Commissioner to Mauritius 2000-2004), Lord David Steel, Mike Summers (Councillor, Falkland Islands), Caroline Yon JP (Ascension).

The update continues, “We were overwhelmed by the number of supportive and encouraging messages in the wake of the FCO decision. One lady in Yorkshire said she was up to her ankles in water because of the floods but “at least my ankles are on my own land in my own country!” Another said, “The description of Diego Garcia by the American Services as the “Footprint of Freedom” should really be “the Bootprint of Brutality” because there are bootprints all over the bodies of the Chagosians where the British and Americans have stomped all over their Human Rights”.

Reading this report reminds us all that it is not only our Government and Opposition that are to be held suspect when it comes to constitutional reform. The British representatives are employed in a Department with a flawed reputation and history. They have their own agendas. We need to be sure of our principles before we begin treating with them. We need to be certain that our representatives are prepared to insist on matters of principle. If they go into the talks shooting from the hip like some Wild West gunslinger, they will bite the dust. Only persons of known integrity and principle can be trusted with such a responsibility. This is a time of great uncertainty and nervousness for all of us.


  1. “We have no reason to be anything better. That’s how we were raised. We were raised to chase money. Not equality, not freedom, not peace.” --Bermuda radio personality Thaao Dill

  2. "Osbourne, in this second life, let good governance be one of its hallmarks. In so doing, you must ensure that your government is transparent, accountable, participatory, responsive, respectful of people's fundamental rights, including the right to dissent, and of the rule of law."
    --Colville Petty, 20 October 2006, in The Anguillian

  3. “Democracy is not a luxury or an issue of ideology; it is a fundamental precondition for social and economic development.” And because the system is supposed to operate on the principle of the majority in a democratic state controlling the reins of power and authority over the public affairs of the nation-state, one would have thought that the same majority will be the major beneficiaries in the system.

    But in gross violation of the very principles that give the system its life-blood, as it were, the majority are used and manipulated every five years or so, to give the rulers legitimacy and, before the ink is dried on the oaths of office the winners in the election race have signed, the minority are the ones who begin and or continue to benefit both socially and economically, while the majority get poorer and poorer, even when the infrastructure and the physical layout looks very prosperous.

    In my view, that is not because of the flaws or other shortcomings of the system of democracy itself, but because of those who gain the power and authority from the majority votes, and then turn around and abuse and misuse that power, and make a mockery of the oaths of office they took to behave honourably.

    And what is even more disturbing and humiliating is that the very few who got onto the seats of power by the votes of the masses, they do not oftentimes even behave as if they regard the very masses as having any common sense to see through their schemes and the absence of accountability and transparency.

    As we come to the end of another year, in which very questionable schemes, and inexplicable and unaccounted for actions and decisions, and in too many cases total darkness covering and surrounding government’s action and policy decisions, we have yet another decision involving the people’s assets, that is screaming out to the financial gods for answers and explanations to the people. You decide.

    --Lloyd Noel, former Attorney General of Grenada


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