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LALIT demands Swift Action on Government Pledge to take Diego Garcia issue to ICJ


While LALIT has been calling for the Mauritian State to take the Diego Garcia/Chagos issue to the International Court of Justice for an Advisory Opinion, the new Government has been elected with a promise to effectively take the matter to the ICJ. Below is a copy of the letter that LALIT has sent to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on the issue.

Hon. Etienne Sinatambou,
Minister of Foreign Affairs,
Port Louis.

Dear Sir,

LALIT is very pleased that, at long last, political parties that are in Government have taken a firm stand in favour of putting a case before the International Court of Justice at The Hague on the issue of the re-unification of Mauritius through the completion of Mauritian de-colonization by means of the re-inclusion of Diego Garcia and the whole of Chagos within the Republic. This huge step means putting into practice what is already in the Constitution. We presume the new Government’s intention is to request an “advisory opinion”, given that the UK does not accept binding jurisdiction from any present (or even former) Commonwealth member or ex-colony.

In order for such an Advisory Opinion to be sought in the best of conditions, it is, in our opinion, important that the question be supported by a UN General Assembly Resolution calling for the Advisory Opinion. This would best be at the UN General Assembly’s 2015 sitting because of the current re-negotiation of the lease arrangement between the UK and the USA. It is also an opportune moment for the new Government to act, when Diego Garcia is constantly in the news, in both the UK and USA, concerning torture having been perpetrated there by US Armed Forces.

In turn, in order to get the issue inscribed on the UN General Assembly Agenda for September, it is important to begin the process immediately, as it can be laborious.

And, because the Mauritian State can expect strong diplomatic pressure from the UK and the USA against this issue being put on the UN General Assembly Agenda, it is, again in turn, worth from today, galvanizing diplomatic support from all the African Union countries, as well as from countries that were in the Non Aligned movement. A newly elected Government is in a good position to seek this kind of support. Seeking such support is facilitated by the existence of the new “Pelindaba Treaty for a Nuclear Arms Free Africa”, on whose Committee Mauritius has a seat. It gives Mauritius the high moral ground if the Mauritian State, at the same time, calls for the beginning of the process of base closure, including putting an end to the stockage and transit of nuclear materials and arms on or through Mauritian land.

Since the proposed initiative of going to the ICJ implies a new “aménagement” of the Republic of Mauritius, a process of consultations with the Chagossian community should be opened up simultaneously about the kind of Island Council and constituency arrangements that are most democratic. Clear support from the Chagossian community in general, and in particular from the majority group, the Chagos Refugees Group, would make for a coherent campaign to support the Case before the ICJ.

Yours sincerely,

22 December, 2014