Britain urged to axe aid amid row with Mauritius over threat to JAIL anyone calling Chagos Islands 'British'

Britain urged to axe aid amid row with Mauritius over threat to JAIL anyone calling Chagos Islands 'British'

WATCH NOW: Mauritian flag raised over British-controlled Chagos Islands

GB News
Holly Bishop

By Holly Bishop


Published: 30/01/2024

- 15:06

The islands have belonged to the UK since 1810, after capturing the islands from the French

Britain has been cautioned against giving foreign aid to Mauritius after the African country threatened to send anyone who called the Chagos Islands “British” to prison for up to 10 years.

The Indian Ocean state, which is allied to China, has laid claim to archipelago, which is located over 1,300 miles away.


As part of their attempts to gain sovereignty over the Islands, Mauritius passed legislation in 2021 which forbids anyone from saying that the archipelago in the Indian Ocean belongs to Britain.

The law criminalises “misrepresenting the sovereignty of Mauritius over any part of its territory” and can be applied to anyone across the world.

Diego Garcia Base

Downing Street is considering giving the islands to Mauritius, however, No10 has insisted that they would keep control over the Diego Garcia airbase

Getty

In response, Rishi Sunak has been urged to cut Britain’s £3million in aid payments to Mauritius for the 2023/24 financial year by a leading think tank.

Dr Yuan Yi Zhu, the report’s author, urged the Prime Minister to “limit high-level contacts with Mauritius in relation to the Chagos Islands, including but not limited to contacts in relation to the ongoing talks concerning the sovereignty of the Chagos”.

He added: “The UK Government should also consider additional measures, such as the recall of the British High Commissioner to Mauritius for consultations and the suspension of British foreign aid to Mauritius, which amounts to £3.11million for the 2023/2024 fiscal year.”

The islands have belonged to the UK since 1810, after capturing the islands from the French.

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Mauritius

The law criminalises “misrepresenting the sovereignty of Mauritius over any part of its territory”

Flickr

Situated in the archipelago, is the US airbase, Diego Garcia. American and British jets flew from there during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Downing Street is now considering giving the islands to Mauritius, however, No10 has insisted that they would keep control over the airbase.

Despite this, there are fears that it could be compromised by Chinese influence, as Mauritius is an ally of Beijing.

“How on earth can the Government explain a decision to negotiate with Chinese-aligned Mauritius to hand over sovereignty of the strategically vital island of Diego Garcia, an island which is located some 2,152 kilometres from Mauritius itself?” Lord West, a former sea lord warned Sunak in a Policy Exchange report that was released in October 2023.

Grant Shapps, the Defence Secretary, and Lord Cameron, the Foreign Secretary, have both opposed yielding control of the islands to Mauritius.

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak has been urged to cut Britain’s £3million in aid payments to Mauritius for the 2023/24 financial year by a leading think tank.

PA

In a forward to the new report, Sir Robert Buckland said: “In 2021, Mauritius took the extraordinary and offensive step of passing legislation that criminalises alleged misrepresentations of Mauritian sovereignty, made in any part of the world.

“This law, of breath-taking ambit, is a clear attempt to shut down legitimate debate about the future of the Chagos Islands. It represents a threat to freedom of expression, including freedom of speech within,” the former justice secretary said.

He likened the legislation as similar to the National Security Law which was implemented in Hong Kong by China in 2020.

Buckland added: “A transfer of sovereignty is not in the interests of the Chagossians. Further, a transfer is not in the interests of the environment (given that the UK currently protects 250,000 square miles of ocean around the islands) and it is certainly not in the interests of international security in this important region.”

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