Friday, April 02, 2010

Letter to Foreign Secretary on the Chagos MCA

From Lord Avebury

April 2, 2010

Dear Foreign Secretary,

As vice-chair of the Chagos All-Party Parliamentary group, I write to express my shock and dismay over your decision to make the Chagos Archipelago a no-take marine conservation area, announced during the Easter recess and with only three sitting days left before Parliament is dissolved. You are well aware of the concern in both Houses of Parliament about the rights of the islanders, and the timing of your statement makes it impossible for the issue to be debated until after the new Parliament sits on or about May 19. Furthermore, while the statement says the decision is without prejudice to the appeal by the islanders to the European Court of Human Rights, you are making their return impossible in practice, because the only immediate means of sustenance available to them would be fishing. Actually, this looks like an improper attempt to bring pressure to bear on the Court, as well as being in contempt of Parliament and in total disregard for the interests of the Chagossian people whom Parliament, if not your Government, is morally obliged to defend

Neither the islanders, nor the APPG, have the power to challenge the decision, or even to discuss it with Ministers as was promised by Ivan Lewis MP on behalf of the Government in a parliamentary debate on March 10. I can only say I hope you are proud of the way you have trampled on the principles of Parliamentary democracy and transparency of government.

The Rt Hon David Milliband MP,
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
London SW1A 2AH

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