Tuesday, September 4, 2018

UK admits Chagos evictions 'shameful'

(BBC)- The UK has apologised at an international court over what it calls the "shameful way" residents of the disputed Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean were evicted from the territory, news agency AFP reports.

It, however, insisted that Mauritius was wrong to bring the dispute over ownership of Chagos Islands to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying the matter was "purely a bilateral issue".

The UK, in the early 1970s, evicted almost 2,000 residents to Mauritius and the Seychelles to make way for a key military base base.

AFP quoted UK solicitor general Robert Buckland as telling the court: "[The UK] fully accepts the manner in which Chagossians were removed from the Chagos Archipelago... The way they were treated thereafter was shameful and wrong and [the UK] deeply regrets that fact.".

Mr Buckland asked the judges to "decline the request for an advisory opinion."

Mauritius' lawyers told the judges that the Chagos Islands were "integral" to its territory and it was handed to the UK "under duress".

"More than 50 years after independence... the process of decolonisation of Mauritius remains incomplete," former Mauritian President Anerood Jugnauth told the court.

This was "as a result of the unlawful detachment of an integral part of our territory on the eve of our independence," he added.

The ICJ will hand down a non-binding ruling.