The UK is just an American State

Diego Garcia, the island which has been used for extra-ordinary rendition, is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, an archipelago of 55 islands which covers 54,000 sq km of ocean. The islands have a land area of 60 sq km.

The territory is overseen by a Commissioner and Administrator who are based in London. The Commissioner's Representative in the BIOT is the commanding officer of the British Royal Navy Party at Diego Garcia and who serves as the Justice of the Peace.

In the mid-1960s, Britain secretly leased Diego Garcia to the United States for 50 years, in exchange for a discount of US$11million on Polaris nuclear submarines. The deal was not disclosed to the US Congress, the British Parliament, or the United Nations. A memo from then Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart to Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson in 1969 admitted that the payment was kept secret from Parliament and the US Congress.However, America accepted only on condition that the islands were uninhabited. As a result, over the next few years the 1 200 inhabitants of the Chagossian Islands were forced to leave and sent to either Mauritius or the Seychelles in 1971, Britain made it official with an Immigration Ordinance denying the Chagossians the right to return. In 1978 Chagossians were each paid twenty pounds in compensation.

The constitutional arrangements for BIOT are set out in the British Indian Ocean Territory ( Constitution) Order 2004 and related instruments. The 2004 Order gives the Commissioner full power to make laws for the Territory. A series of UK/US Agreements regulate matters relating to the use of the Territory for defence purposes, such as jurisdiction over US military and other personnel.

Despite numerous court cases, which appeared to set the Chagossians able to return home in 2008 the Foreign Office successfully argued, that allowing the Chagossian islanders to go back to their Indian Ocean homes would be a "precarious and costly" operation, and the United States had said that it would also present an "unacceptable risk" to its base on Diego Garcia.

While Diego Garcia remains leased to the USA, Britain retains no control over the island, nor over the whole of BIOT. The fact that BIOT law is meant to be precedent in the Islands, yet evidently is interpreted to suit American desires, is a sad indictment of the way the UK continues to cede to American supremacy over the Sovereignty of the UK.

The Government has claimed 'the UK expects the US to seek permission before rendering detainees through British territory'. The US evidently don't really care what the UK expects as it has transpired that at least two rendition flights landed in Diego Garcia, about which the US didn't bother to inform the UK.

Having broken their lease by not informing the UK of this use, the US should be kicked off the island, but of course that wont happen.

The British Government used Orders of Council rather than statute, to continue to following the American demands in 2004. Jack Straw, then Foreign Secretary, signed the exclusion orders. He was subsequently asked how he now justifies the decision to deny the Chagossians the right to return to their home. He replied ‘..It was a difficult decision with two alternatives: whether to do it by Orders in Council or by statute….it was simpler to use Orders in Council...’ He was then asked ‘..Do you think the Chagos islands decision should have gone at least before the the Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the House of Commons?’ Mr. Straw replied ‘In retrospect, yes. I think, with the benefit of hindsight, that what I exchanged was speed for legitimacy.’

The British version of elected dictatorship is discredited both in domestic and international affairs.


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