Mauritius threatens to take Chagos Islands row to UN court

A United Nations vote in favour of referring the case to the court in The Hague would have to be obtained.

By: IANS | Port Louis | Published: November 18, 2016 7:26:58 am

Mauritius is threatening to take Britain to the international court of justice in a dispute over sovereignty of the Chagos Islands. In the wake of the Foreign Office’s announcement this week that none of the Chagossians expelled in the 1960s to make way for military bases would be allowed to return to live on the Indian Ocean archipelago, Mauritius, which claims the territory, has accused Britain of “outrageously” undermining human rights, The Guardian reported on Thursday.

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Mauritius Prime Minister Anerood Jugnauth criticised the British government’s refusal to let the Chagossian community return to the island, which he said “always formed and continues to form an integral part of the territory of Mauritius”.

He added: “In view of the purported unilateral actions of Britain, Mauritius would be fully justified in taking forward the completion of the process of decolonisation, which is now on the agenda of the current session of the UN general assembly, with a view to putting the matter before the international court of justice.”

A United Nations vote in favour of referring the case to the court in The Hague would have to be obtained. The Mauritian government said Britain’s “unilateral” decision to ban the right of return and to renew the lease for the US base on Diego Garcia, one of the Chagos Islands, for another 20 years breached international law.

Mauritius said Britain had “acted in blatant breach of the letter and spirit” of a judgment under the UN convention on the law of the sea last year.

“The denial of the right of Mauritians in general, and those of Chagossian origin in particular, to settle in the Chagos archipelago is a manifest breach of international law and outrageously flouts their human rights,” the statement said.

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