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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 February 2008, 12:27 GMT
Chagos families making visit home
Chagos islanders outside the High Court
The islanders protested for the right to return to the island
A group of Chagos Islanders forced into exile by the British government to make way for a US military base, are to make a return visit home.

Some 2,000 residents of the British territory were removed in the 1960s and 1970s when Britain leased Diego Garcia to the US to use as a military base.

In May 2007 they won their High Court battle for the right to return home.

A group of eight islanders will spend seven days each on Peros Banhos and the Salomon in the Indian Ocean.

The islanders were evicted from their homes on the Chagos archipelago, between Africa and Indonesia.

Many former residents now live in Mauritius or in the UK.

A spokesman for the Let Them Return campaign said they would tend graves, hold services and look around among derelict former plantations, where some of their ancestors once lived.

Earlier rulings

In 2000, the High Court ruled that a 1971 Immigration Ordinance banning people without permits from entering or remaining in the colony was unlawful.

In 2004, the government changed the procedure under which the eviction was ordered, using its so-called royal prerogative to establish an Order in Council.

But in 2006 the High Court ruled that the government had acted illegally in removing the islanders from their homes.

Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cresswell's verdict condemned as "repugnant" the British government's decision to "exile a whole population" from the Indian Ocean.

Ministers attempted to get that ruling overturned in the Court of Appeal.

But the three sitting judges, headed by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Anthony Clarke, condemned government tactics stopping the Chagossians' return as unlawful and an abuse of power.

Ministers have applied to take the case to the House of Lords for a final decision in a case that is expected to be heard later this year.



VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Chagos Islander reacts to the verdict



SEE ALSO
Fresh battle over Chagos exiles
05 Feb 07 |  Southern Counties

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