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UN Human Rights Committee takes UK to task on Diego Garcia question

21.08.2008


The UN Human Rights Committee has severely criticized the UK State in its concluding observations that was just last week released to the press on the use of military base on Chagos for rendition flights, and on its refusal to let Chagossians return to the Chagos. The UK, as a State that has ratified the Covenant for Civil and Political Rights has to present a report of the UK human rights situation to the UN Human Rights Committee periodically. In the last session held in Geneva, 7-25 July 2008, the Comittee questioned representatives of the UK State on human rights infringements. The extract below is from the UN Human Rights Comittee's concluding observations on the Chagos question.

Note that the State of Mauritius has some years ago sent a declaration to the Committee to state that the Chagos forms part of Mauritius and had been illegally excised by the UK. The Human Rights Committee did not comment on this question of sovereignty in its concluding observations.

"13. The Committee notes with concern that the State party has allowed the use of the British Indian Ocean Territory as a transit point on at least two occasions for rendition flights of persons to countries where they risk being subjected to torture or ill-treatment. (arts. 2, 7 and 14)

"The State party should investigate allegations related to transit through its territory of rendition flights and establish an inspection system to ensure that its airports are not used for such purposes."

(...)

"22. The Committee regrets that, despite its previous recommendation, the State party has not included the British Indian Ocean Territory in its periodic report because it claims that, owing to an absence of population, the Covenant does not apply to this territory. It takes note of the recent decision of the Court of Appeal in Regina (Bancoult) v. Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (No 2) (2007) indicating that the Chagos islanders who were unlawfully removed from the British Indian Ocean Territory should be able to exercise their right to return to the outer islands of their territory. (art.12)

"The State party should ensure that the Chagos islanders can exercise their right to return to their territory and should indicate what measures have been taken in this regard. It should consider compensation for the denial of this right over an extended period. It should also include the Territory in its next periodic report."