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European Court of Human Rights rejects Chagos Islanders’ case as inadmissible


The Chagos Islanders brought a claim in the European Court of Human Rights against the United Kingdom government, claiming multiple violations of their fundamental rights arising out of their forced expulsion from the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean in the early 1970s and their continued exclusion from the islands. The Court has just held their application inadmissible (7 years after it was lodged) on the grounds that the European Convention on Human Rights does not apply in the British Indian Ocean Territory, and the Chagossians are not 'victims' because they received some compensation as a settlement of their tort claims in 1982.

In 2000, the Chagos Islanders won their judicial review (Bancoult (1)) finding that the power to expel them from the islands was ultra vires. They also won their second judicial review in the Divisional Court and Court of Appeal (Bancoult (2)) challenging the prerogative Order in Council used to prevent their return to the islands in 2004, but lost in the House of Lords by a narrow majority. There is now a pending a judicial review of the Government's decision to impose a Marine Protection Zone around the islands to prevent their return.

The judgment is here.

David Anderson QC and Maya Lester appeared for the Chagos Islanders, instructed by Clifford Chance, Jemima Stratford QC for Human Rights Watch and the Minority Rights Group as interveners.