Seychelles: Chagossians in Seychelles Cleared for British Citizenship

Seychelles Chagossians in Seychelles Cleared for British Citizenship (News Central TV)

Descendants of people born in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), including the Chagossians are now allowed direct application for citizenship, according to a British nationality law passed on April 28. 

However, there is no indication when it will take effect, said the chairperson of the Chagossian Committee of Seychelles (CCS) on Thursday.

“It is expected to start sometime this year and I have spoken to the deputy British High Commissioner who said he will advise us but so far there is no indication when this will start,” Pierre Prosper stated.

According to a British Government website, “the Home Office has listened to the concerns raised by the Chagossian community about the impact of the combination of the removal of the Chagossians from the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) in the 1960s and 1970s, and the limited recognition of their removal in nationality legislation has had on their ability to access British nationality.”

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It further adds that “The Nationality and Borders Bill will create an entitlement for direct descendants of Chagossians who were born on the islands that now form part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, and who are not already British Overseas Territory citizens (BOTCs) or British citizens, to acquire both those forms of British nationality.”  

Under the new law, adult applicants five years from the commencement date can make a free application while children under 18 can be included in the application. To ensure that no one misses out, those under 18 can also apply in their own right when they reach 23 years old.

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Prosper said once the application is opened “those who qualify will have to register probably with the British High Commission, then they can start their application.”

About 2,000 Chagossians were forcibly evicted from the Chagos archipelago in the central Indian Ocean in 1960 after the U.K leased the main island, Diego Garcia, to the United States to use as a military base.

Mahe, the main island of Seychelles received more than 200 deportees between 1967 and 1973, when the country was still a British colony. The rest were deported to Mauritius, another British colony at the time.

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