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LABOUR leader Jeremy Corbyn condemned the government today for its "shameful" failure to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius.
In May the United Nations gave Britain six months to give up control of the overseas territory following a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the decolonisation of Mauritius was not “lawfully completed.”
The deadline expired yesterday with the British government refusing to accept the judgement as binding.
Mr Corbyn said: "It's clear that in refusing to return the Chagos Islands to Mauritius and defying the UN General Assembly and ICJ, this Conservative government shamefully considers itself to be above international law.
"A Labour government will end colonial rule. We immediately will enact our manifesto promise to allow the people of the Chagos Islands and their descendants the right to return to the lands from which they should never have been removed."
Mr Corbyn also told reporters during campaigning in Stoke-on-Trent that he is looking forward to being in government to “right one of the wrongs of history.”
Mauritius Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth called Britain an illegal colonial occupier as the six-month period came to a close.
The East African nation claims it was forced to trade the small archipelago in the Indian Ocean in 1965 for independence.
Britain has refused to recognise Mauritius’ claim to sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, which Britain purchased for £3 billion while Mauritius was still a colony — creating the British Indian Ocean Territory.
Chagos Refugees’ Group UK leader Olivier Bancoult urged world leaders to recognise the Chagossian people’s right to determine their own future.
He said: “It’s time the [British] government engaged directly with the Chagossian community across the world, deliver support for Chagossian return and offer proper support for those still living in exile.”
A Foreign Office spokesperson said the territory will remain in British hands until “it is no longer needed for defence purposes.” The islands are roughly 6,000 miles distant from Britain.
Britain has leased one of the biggest islands, Diego Garcia, to the United States, which runs a military base for long-range missions in the Middle East.
About 1,500 islanders were forcibly deported between 1968 and 1973 so Diego Garcia could be used by the US.
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