This week Chagos Islanders go to court to continue their fight to return to their homeland.
The Chagos Islands form part of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT). Between 1968 and 1972, the British government exiled the entire population of the Islands to facilitate the construction of a US military base on Diego Garcia. A law was passed to prohibit any Chagossian from returning to the Islands without a permit.
Since then, the whole community of Chagossians – in Mauritius, the Seychelles and the UK – has fought for the right to return. But the prohibition on entry continues.
Between 2012 and 2016, the UK government conducted a review of its policy on resettlement of the Islands. A report by KPMG concluded that resettlement was feasible and a consultation confirmed that 98% of Chagossians supported resettlement.
But the government decided not to allow resettlement. It thought that feasibilty, cost and security concerns outweighed the rights of Chagossians to return to their homeland.
This week, the Divisional Court will hear applications for judicial review by Chagossians who want the government to rethink.