World Court Says U.K. Should Return Control of Indian Ocean Islands

(Bloomberg) -- The International Court of Justice said the U.K. should hand back to Mauritius control of an Indian Ocean archipelago where a key U.S. naval base is located.

“The U.K.’s continued administration of the Chagos archipelago “is an unlawful act of a continuing character,” court President Abdulqawi Ahmed Yusuf said in The Hague. “Accordingly the U.K. is under an obligation to bring an end to its administration of the Chagos archipelago as rapidly as possible,” Yusuf said.

The United Nations in 2017 sought an advisory opinion from the ICJ, its principal judicial organ, on the legal status of the archipelago.

Chagos is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory, which has been administered by the U.K. since 1965, when it paid the then self-governing colony of Mauritius 3 million pounds ($3.9 million) for control of the islands. Between 1967 and 1973, hundreds of inhabitants were removed to make way for the Diego Garcia U.S. military base, which has been used to launch bomber jets for wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

World Court Says U.K. Should Return Control of Indian Ocean Islands

Mauritian Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth in August obtained the backing of the African Union and about 30 other countries in his bid to have control of the archipelago returned to Mauritius. The request to the ICJ excludes Diego Garcia, he said.

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