Chagossians update

330px-Chagosmap

A lot is happening in various challenges related to the long-running and shameful exclusion of the Chagossian people from their islands in the Indian Ocean. 

Here are the headlines, with a reminder of what these cases are about:

First, the Court of Appeal has just (2 April 2014) heard an appeal by the Chagossians against the dismissal of their challenge to the designation of the waters around the islands as a Marine Protected Area. 

Second, the closed hearing of the UNCLOS Arbitral Tribunal on the merits of the Chagos dispute (Mauritius v UK) is to be held at Istanbul on 22 April 2014. This also concerns the designation of the MPA.

Thirdly, the public hearing in the UK Information Tribunal on access to Diego Garcia pollution data appeal under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which the FCO — contrary to the view of the Information Commissioner — says is inapplicable to overseas territories) is to be held on May 1st, 2014.

Now to a little more detail.

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The Chagossian Wikileaks cable judgment, fishing rights and a dose of EU law

330px-ChagosmapBancoult v. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Divisional Court, Richards LJ and Mitting J, 11 June 2013 read judgment

The Divisional Court has now dismissed  the claim by Mr Bancoult on behalf of the Chagossian islanders. He had challenged the designation of the waters around the islands as a “no take” Marine Protected Area, i.e. one which could not be fished. 

Mr Bancoult said that the decision was flawed (i) by having an improper purpose (it would put paid to the Chagossians’ claims for resettlement); (ii) by inadequate consultation and (iii) by amounting to a breach of an EU obligation to promote the economic and social development of the islands. The Court ruled against all these claims.

The case has, to say the least, quite a back-story. It started with the Chagossians’ eviction from their islands in the Indian Ocean in the late 1960s and early 1970s,  on which I have posted here, here, and, in Strasbourg, here. After a judgment from the courts in 2000, the Foreign Office accepted that the original law underlying their departure was unlawful, and agreed to investigate their possible resettlement on some of their islands.

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Chagossians: Wikileaks cables not admissible in court

9780199275670Bancoult v. Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Divisional Court, Richards LJ and Mitting J, 16-24 April 2013, judgment awaited, but see 25 July 2012, Stanley Burnton LJ for an earlier judgment   UPDATED

A quick update at the end of the recent judicial review on 24 April by Mr Bancoult on behalf of the Chagossian islanders, but before judgment. The challenge was to the designation of the waters around their islands as a “no take” Marine Protected Area, i.e. one which could not be fished.

I have posted on this saga before, which started with the Chagossians’ eviction from their islands in the Indian Ocean in the late 1960s and early 1970s, here, here, and, in Strasbourg, here. After a judgment from the courts in 2000, the FCO accepted that the original law underlying their departure was unlawful, and agreed to investigate their possible resettlement on some of their islands.

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No cash from the UK to avoid Indonesian firing squad

Lindsay SandifordSandiford, R(on the application of) v Secretary of State for Foreign & Commonwealth Affairs [2013] 168 (Admin) – read judgment

In this highly publicised case, the Administrative Court has come up with some firm criteria for the scope of the Convention’s protective reach for UK citizens abroad. The judgment is also something of a body blow for those who are looking to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms for a wider human rights umbrella.

Lindsay Sandiford, the 56 year old claimant, was arrested for drug smuggling in Indonesia and sentenced to death. She issued judicial review proceedings seeking an order requiring the FCO to provide and fund an “adequate lawyer” on the basis that she had not had proper representation in Indonesia. The broad basis of this claim was that the UK government should back up its opposition to the death penalty by putting its money where its mouth is. Continue reading

Assange kills off Pupino, but ambiguity remains – Alex Tinsley

In last week’s judgment in Assange v The Swedish Prosecution Authority [2012] UKSC 22, the Supreme Court decided that the words ‘judicial authority’ in s 2(2) of the Extradition Act 2003 include prosecutors as well as courts. This was because the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) Framework Decision, to which the Part 1 of 2003 Act gave effect, uses the expression in that broad sense, and the presumption is that Parliament meant the same thing (summary here).

The EAW Framework Decision has always guided the interpretation of the Part 1 of the 2003 Act. Until Assange, there were two different reasons for this: (i) a domestic rule of statutory interpretation; and (ii) the rule expounded by the Court of Justice of the EU in Case C-105/03 Criminal proceedings against Maria Pupino.

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Assange, secret trials and data retention – The Human Rights Roundup

Welcome back to the UK Human Rights Roundup, your weekly buffet of human rights news. The full list of links can be found here. You can also find our table of human rights cases here and previous roundups here.

The big news this week has been the unexpected turn of events in the Assange extradition case. Almost immediately after the Supreme Court handed down its judgment that he could be extradited, his counsel Dinah Rose QC threw a spanner in the works… The upshot is that it looks like Assange shall be sticking around for at least another couple of weeks. The other significant news of the week is that the Government has published the Justice and Security Bill.

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Julian Assange: Bail granted and judge gives permission to tweet

Julian Assange, the founder and head of Wikileaks, has succeeded in an initial challenge to last week’s refusal to grant bail in his extradition case. And, in an appropriate nod to the internet age, the judge granted two people the right to tweet from the court.

The tweeters (definition: users of Twitter, a social website which allows people to post 140 character messages to people who chose to follow them) are Alexi Mostrous, a Times special correspondent, and Heather Brook, a writer. Mostrous tweeted at 14:30:

judge just gave me explicit permission to tweet proceedings “if it’s quiet and doesn’t disturb anything”. #wikileaks

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