Justice Denied

Some time back, I wrote about the case of the Chagos islanders pursuing their right to return to their homes in the Indian Ocean (https://liverpoolmpa.wordpress.com/2007/05/30/slow-justice/).  I was wrong to call it slow justice.  It now looks like no justice from the UK.  I am no lawyer, but the case has involved the extraordinary use of the royal prerogative to override the courts.  If ever there were need for proof that our constitution is arcane and medieval, this appears to be it.

The full judgement can be read at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200708/ldjudgmt/jd081022/banc-1.htm.  It is evident that the five judges were split 3:2 on the issue on legal grounds.  There appears to be no disagreement as to the injustice being done.

A brief story has been posted on the BBC’s news pages: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7683726.stm.  It appears that the European Court of Human Rights may be the next port of call.  Doubtless a fuller discusion will follow.


2 Responses to “Justice Denied”

  1. 1 Tim Cope November 2, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    There is very little doubt that this is a completely unjust and unsettling use of the strange and complex constitution we have here in the UK. It poses some difficult questions about the responsibility that countries like the UK has for decisions made in the past.

    Should the UK be held accountable for the legacy of the British Empire, for example, which has (arguably) left the developing world in the grips of poverty? Where does this small nations’ responsibilities end?

    Consider the rights of the Chagos Islanders who merely want to return to their rightful homelands. Seeing as it was our intervention which displaced them, how can we refuse to return them…? surely whatever compensation we offered to them before cannot equate to the loss of their anciestial roots?

    But hang on, what about all of the other peoples displaced by the actions of the UK in the past; the slave trade for example. The consequences could be endless.

    It will be very interesting to see how the European Court of Human Rights will tackle this, as I am sure that many European nations will be weary of the numerous possible consequences.

  2. 2 mikerowe November 3, 2008 at 9:34 am

    The issue does raise a whole host of other questions. And doubtless there are questions of precedence in the minds of some lawyers. But what I find so telling about the Chagos Island story is that it is recent history. This was the modern British state deliberately depriving the islanders of their islands. There is one classic quote from the Tim Slessor book, Ministries of Deception, from a civil servant who describes the islands’ inhabitants in the following terms: “Unfortunately, along with the birds go a few Tarzans and Man Fridays who are hopefully being wished on Mauritius”. That one sentence says so much about the civil service. They believe themselves superior, can play with people’s lives and, presumably, thought that nobody would ever read their advice, that it would all stay within the corrisors of power.

    Don’t think that these same beliefs and prejudices are not still alive in Whitehall.

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