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Belize backs African nation in ICJ battle against Britain

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Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2018. 9:38 am CST.

Posted: Saturday, September 8, 2018. 7:50a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: Belize is one of a number of nations supporting the African nation of Mauritius, which is currently involved in an International Court of Justice (ICJ) trial with Britain over control of the Chagos Islands.

The ICJ hearings started this week, with Belize, Guatemala, Botswana, Brazil, Cyprus, Germany, India, Kenya, the Marshall Islands, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Serbia, South Africa, Thailand, Vanuatu and Zambia supporting Mauritius’ claim of sovereignty. Britain’s claim, however, is being supported by the Australia, Israel and the United States, which maintains a large naval base on the largest of the Chagos Islands.

The US was granted permission to establish the naval base by Britain several decades ago with a sweetheart deal in which the US leases the island for $1 per year over a 50 year period. The ICJ took on the case after the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of a Mauritius-backed resolution to seek a legal opinion from the court. Its verdict will be advisory, and not legally binding.

The Chagos Islands represents the last of Britain’s colonies in Africa. The early inhabitants of the islands, mainly slaves and indentured laborers, were forcefully removed from the islands by the British and left in Mauritius or the Seychelles with no relocation assistance. Many of the inhabitants removed from the island live in abject poverty.

Several legal claims have been launched for compensation to the inhabitants, however, none have been successful. Additionally, Britain has enacted a marine reserve status on the territories, making it near impossible for inhabitants to return home at any point in the foreseeable future.

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