The island was then used by the United States as a military base.
Judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in The Hague, said on Monday that the UK’s detachment of the islands and their incorporation into the British Indian Ocean Territory was ‘unlawful’.
The islands‘ inhabitants accuse Britain of unfairly orchestrating their expulsion from the land, referred to by Britain as part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, in order to house the American base on the largest island, Diego Garcia.
The court’s view is not binding and does not mean islanders can return, but it carries a heavy symbolic importance on the world stage.
An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 Chagossians and their descendants live in the UK.
Mauritius prime minister Pravind Jugnauth said the ICJ’s pronouncement was a ‘historic moment for Mauritius and all its people’, adding: ‘Our territorial integrity will now be made complete, and when that occurs, the Chagossians and their descendants will finally be able to return home.’
Judges at the International Court of Justice ruled the the UK’s detachment was ‘unlawful’
Fuel tanks at the edge of a military airstrip on Diego Garcia, largest island in the Chagos archipelago and site of a major United States military base in the middle of the Indian Ocean leased from Britain in 1966
But UK Chagos Support Association vice-chairman Stefan Donnelly said: ‘It remains to be seen whether or not this is a win for the Chagossian people.
‘We hope that.
a consensus can quickly be reached that finally gives a measure of justice to Chagossians.’
The sun-kissed isles with a dark history
Evicted islanders enlisted the help of human rights lawyer Amal Clooney when they took their fight to the Supreme Court in 2015, but the court ruled against them.
The secretive military base on Diego Garcia, the largest island, has been dubbed ‘the Guantanamo of the East’ amid suspicions it was a key staging post in the US rendition and torture programme.
In 2016, the US lease was extended to 2036.
Last night the Foreign Office said it would look ‘carefully’ at the detail of the ICJ’s opinion and stressed it was ‘not a judgement’.
Diego Garcia played a key strategic role in the Cold War before being used as a staging ground for US bombing in Afghanistan and Iraq in the 2000s.
It is also suspected of being a staging post in the US rendition and torture programme.
Tony Blair said during his last days in No 10 that he was ‘satisfied’ the US had never transferred detainees through any British territories, but human rights groups uncovered proof that military aircraft linked to rendition – the transfer of alleged terrorists – had landed on Diego Garcia.
The UK’s ongoing administration is a ‘wrongful act’, according to an advisory opinion given by the court, which is not binding.
The ICJ said: ‘The court finds that the process of decolonisation of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence and that the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible.’
Diego Garcia coral atolls, seen from the Space Shuttle Atlantis in a satellite image taken in November 1990
A spokeswoman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: ‘This is an advisory opinion, not a judgment.
Of course, we will look at the detail of it carefully.
Thousands of Hindus skewer their faces to show their.
The ICJ said the opinion the UK should ends its administration was given with a majority of 13 votes to one.
Another part of its advisory opinion which said ‘member states are under an obligation to co-operate with the United Nations in order to complete the decolonisation’ was given with the same majority.
The Peace Palace, home of the International Court of Justice, in the Hague, Netherlands, where the ruling was delivered on Monday
‘After recalling the circumstances in which the colony of Mauritius agreed in principle to such a detachment, the court considers that this detachment was not based on the free and genuine expression of the will of the people concerned,’ the ICJ said.
Rosa Curling, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day, who represents Solange Hoareau, a Chagossian woman fighting a legal battle to return, said: ‘We are considering the judgment carefully with our client, but clearly the UK should stop breaching international law.
‘The time has come to allow the islanders to return home.