Gwawr Thomas Halts Removal in Chagos Islands Case

Gwawr Thomas acted for a young Chagossian man, successfully challenging a decision to remove him to Mauritius by questioning the weight to be given to the public interest in removal in circumstances where the United Kingdom government had arguably acted in breach of international law.

In 1971, the Chagossians were forcibly exiled from their homeland in a joint operation by the UK and the US, in order to make way for the US military base of Diego Garcia.  The Islands, which remain British territory, were leased to the US for fifty years, with the option of a twenty year extension, in return for a substantial subsidy on the US’s Polaris submarine nuclear deterrent; the deal was struck on condition that the entire archipelago was – in the words of contemporary official correspondence  - “fully sanitised” and “cleansed” of life.  Stripped of their British citizenship and awarded only £325 in compensation, the Chagossians were forcibly removed to Mauritius and the Seychelles.  Their fight to return to their homeland continues before the European Court of Human Rights.

The Secretary of State had proposed that the removal of Gwawr’s client was proportionate even though his mother had been granted UK citizenship under the 2002 concession awarded to first generation descendants of those who were deported from the Islands.

Gwawr was instructed by Oluwole Osibona, Head of the Immigration and Nationality Department at Freemans Solicitors.