Henry Smith MP has been elected Chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group at its AGM (on Tuesday, 7th November).
Speaking in Westminster Hall after his election, Henry said;
“With Crawley home to one of the largest Chagossian communities in the world, I’m honoured to be elected by colleagues as Chair of the Chagos Islands All-Party Parliamentary Group.
“In this role I’ll continue my advocacy for the voices of the Chagossian people. We have long campaigned for them to have the right to return to their homeland after the injustice of their forced exile under the Harold Wilson administration.
“Additionally, the future of the Chagos islanders must be decided by the Chagossian people themselves. The notion of this being chosen anywhere else – in London, Port Louis, the United Nations in New York, or the International Court of Justice in The Hague – is wrong and goes against the very idea of self-determination.
“The Chagos islanders must be able to determine their own future and that of their homeland.”
The Crawley MP previously served as a Vice Chair of the Group and has been a strong advocate for their rights over many years.
In 2018, Henry introduced legislation to ensure nationality rights for descendants of Chagos islanders, with his British Indian Ocean Territory (Citizenship) Bill receiving backing from the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
In March 2022, following years of campaigning, the Government accepted the provisions of an amendment put down by Henry to the Nationality & Borders Bill to ensure those descended from individuals born in the British Indian Ocean Territory be allowed to register as British citizens. This legislation received royal assent in April 2022, with people of Chagossian descent now able to apply to become a British Overseas Territories citizen.
Crawley’s MP has continued to pursue the community’s right to self-determination, including in a House of Commons speech on 11th May 2023 on the Future of Overseas Territories, highlighting how the Chagossian people must have right of determination over the future sovereignty of the Chagos islands.