Visit our new website:

World Court weighs Britain’s claim to Chagos Islands

  • Tue, 04 Sep 2018 03:55
Mon, 2018-09-03 15:03

THE HAGUE: Mauritius tried to persuade judges at the World Court on Monday to find that it was illegally stripped by Britain of another Indian Ocean archipeligo, the Chagos Islands, now home to a major US air base.
The case at the International Court of Justice in the Hague is a test of whether colonial-era deals struck by great powers and small states that later gained independence are legitimate, given the power imbalance.
Britain in 1965 detached the Chagos Islands from its colony of Mauritius, which became independent three years later while the sparsely populated Chagos remained overseas British territory.
The United States has leased the Chagos Islands’ biggest island, Diego Garcia, since 1966 and has built an air base there, while the entire population of around 1,500 people was forced to leave.
In 2017, Mauritius petitioned the United Nations to seek an ICJ advisory opinion on the legality of Britain’s colonial-era move.
Despite opposition from Britain and the United States, which views the Diego Garcia base as a vital military asset, the UN General Assembly referred the matter to the ICJ, commonly known as the World Court, in 2017 for an advisory opinion.
Although ICJ opinions are not binding, they carry weight under international law.
The case was argued by elder statesman Anerood Jugnauth, 88, who served for nearly 30 years during four stints as prime minister or president of Mauritius from 1982-2017, and now holds the post of “minister mentor” in a cabinet led by his son.
“The choice we were faced with was no choice at all: it was independence with detachment (of the Chagos archipelago) or no independence with detachment anyway,” Jugnauth told the 14-judge panel.
UK solicitor general Robert Buckland told the court it should decline to issue any opinion on the matter, which he argued was better suited to bilateral negotiations.
The people displaced from the Chagos Islands have lobbied for years to be able to return. In 2016, Britain’s Foreign Ministry extended Diego Garcia’s lease until 2036, and declared the expelled islanders would not be allowed to go back. Outside the court in The Hague, a small group of Chagossians gathered to protest. They unfurled banners denouncing “modern slavery” and called for Chagossians to be allowed self-determination. “I want the world to see that we are still suffering,” Isabelle Charlot, whose father was born on Chagos, told Reuters.
Buckland accepted that the removal of the Chagossians and their treatment thereafter “was shameful and wrong,” but said it had already been resolved in a 1982 agreement on compensation.
More than 20 interested parties, including the African Union, have asked to take part in the hearings. No date has been set for a decision.

Main category: 


Related Stories

Militants claim responsibility for Iran troops abduction
  • Mon, 22 Oct 2018 22:50

Author: AFPID: 1540215214655170200Mon, 2018-10-22 12:21 TEHRAN: A militant group has claimed responsibility for the abduction of 12 Iranian...

Maldives’ top court dismisses outgoing president’s petition
  • Mon, 22 Oct 2018 05:52

Author: By MOHAMMED SHARUHAAN | APID: 1540151921568880000Sun, 2018-10-21 23:00MALE, Maldives: The Maldives’ top court on Sunday dismissed ...

World Bank offers disaster-hit Indonesia $1 billion in loans
  • Sun, 14 Oct 2018 18:06

Author: AFPID: 1539499974718605000Sun, 2018-10-14 06:33 NUSA DUA, Indonesia: The World Bank on Sunday announced funding of up to $ 1 billio...

US student asks court to allow her entry into Israel
  • Fri, 12 Oct 2018 13:57

Author: Fri, 2018-10-12 04:01 TEL AVIV: An American graduate student who has been held in detention while fighting an expulsion order over her i...

Muslim World League head urges faith leaders to travel to Jerusalem seeking peace
  • Sat, 06 Oct 2018 10:34

Sat, 2018-10-06 01:49 AMMAN: In an unprecedented move, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Issa, secretary-general of the Muslim World League (MWL), has called on fai...

Bangladesh court orders opposition leader to receive hospital treatment
  • Sat, 06 Oct 2018 01:32

Author: AFPID: 1538737083408115400Fri, 2018-10-05 10:48DHAKA: Ailing Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia will be moved from a notorious...

Indian Supreme Court ruling clears way for determination of Babri mosque site dispute
  • Fri, 28 Sep 2018 07:49

Thu, 2018-09-27 22:08 NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court of India upheld a 25-year-old observation of the court declaring prayer in mosques not integral to...

MiSk Foundation, UN Sign Strategic Agreement Supporting World Youth
  • Thu, 27 Sep 2018 18:33

The Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Foundation, MiSK Foundation, signed on Thursday an agreement to become a strategic pioneering partner for...

India's Supreme Court approves controversial ‘Aadhar’ biometric identity project
  • Thu, 27 Sep 2018 01:51

Author: daniel fountainID: 1537981558728080500Wed, 2018-09-26 20:07 NEW DELHI: In a much-awaited judgment India’s Supreme Court has uphel...

Erdogan: Turkish court will decide fate of detained US pastor
  • Wed, 26 Sep 2018 14:22

Author: ReutersID: 1537941594955108400Wed, 2018-09-26 05:41 NEW YORK: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said a Turkish court, not politician...

From ‘minga’ to ‘Maga’ — how the UN heard two world views
  • Wed, 26 Sep 2018 10:47

Author: Frank KaneID: 1537911601831750200Wed, 2018-09-26 00:39 NEW YORK: The president of the United Nations General Assembly, Maria Espino...

World Bank report warns Gaza Strip economy is in ‘free fall’
  • Tue, 25 Sep 2018 18:12

Author: APID: 1537854966956933400Tue, 2018-09-25 (All day)JERUSALEM: The Gaza Strip’s economy is in “free fall,” a report from the Wor...