153 Main Road, Grand River North West,
Port Louis, Republic of Mauritius.
Tel/fax: 230 208 2132, 230 208 5551
Ms Francoise Krill, The Head of Operations for Southern Africa,
International Committee of the Red Cross Regional Delegation for Southern Africa,
Church Street 794, PO BOX 29001,
Sunnyside 0132, PRETORIA, South Africa. (FAX 27 11 430 4471)
Dear Ms. Krill,
Request for International Committee of the Red Cross to Contact Republic of Mauritius for Inspection concerning Prisoners Held in Diego Garcia (Chagos, Republic of Mauritius)
We have noted the concern expressed recently by Mr. Francois Stam, ICRC head of operations for North America and Europe, about the United States' "ghost prisoners", some of whom may be held on or near the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia, which is one of the "unspecified locations" for holding suspects. We write to you because Diego Garcia in Mauritius, is under the responsibility of your Regional Delegation.
Being aware that the ICRC wishes to account for these prisoners, and as a peoples' organization which has been involved in the struggle around Diego Garcia, we write this letter to suggest formally that the ICRC contact the Mauritian Government to request permission for an inspection.
The Mauritian Constitution at Section 111, reads: " 'Mauritius' includes -
(a) the Islands of Mauritius, Rodrigues, Agalega, Tromelin, Cargados Carajos and the Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia and any other island comprised in the State of Mauritius;
(b) the territorial sea and the air space above the territorial sea and the islands specified in paragraph (a)
The Mauritian Coast Guard has the legal right to patrol around Diego Garcia.
Mauritius gained Independence in 1968. The Charter of the United Nations specifically outlaws the breaking up of colonies on Independence. The Chagos Archipelago, including Diego Garcia, was, nevertheless, excised illegally by the British State at the time of Mauritian independence.
Chagos is today what the UK and USA call by the name "British Indian Ocean Territories" (BIOT), a colonial "fiction" recognized by no other State in the world. (The Government of Seychelles has since the initial invention of this fiction, subsequently successfully reclaimed its stolen Islands - Aldabra, Farquar and Desroches - which, together with Chagos, made up the original BIOT).
From 1965 to 1973 all the Mauritians living on Chagos were forcibly removed, mainly to the main island of Mauritius. The Chagossian people won a High Court Case in 2000 in London, awarding them the right to return to Chagos.
Moreover, on 10th June, 2004, only three weeks after the ICRC communique, the British Government passed Orders in Council prohibiting everyone including Chagossians from going to the entire Chagos. These Orders are being challenged in Court in the UK.
All this to inform you that Chagos, including Diego Garcia where prisoners are held, is part of Mauritius. As such, we believe that it would be appropriate for your Regional Office of the International Committee of the Red Cross to approach the Mauritian Government, which holds sovereignty, to seek permission for a formal visit of inspection to Diego Garcia.
for LALIT, 23rd June, 2004