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British Indian Ocean Territory

Question for Foreign and Commonwealth Office

UIN HL5702, tabled on 28 February 2017

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the 1976 UK–US Exchange of Notes concerning the British Indian Ocean Territories allows free use of the airfield and anchorage on Diego Garcia for aircraft and ships owned or operated by them, or on their behalf; and if so, whether they could charter civilian aircraft to transport Chagossians on (1) visits to, or (2) work opportunities in, the Chagos Islands.

Answered on

14 March 2017

Ships and aircraft owned or operated by or on behalf of the Governments of the United Kingdom and United States may freely use the anchorage and airfield on Diego Garcia. A civilian aircraft chartered by Her Majesty's Government would fall within this scope. Under the Exchange of Notes, routine access to Diego Garcia is restricted to: members of the Forces of the United Kingdom and of the United States; the Commissioner and public officials in the service of the British Indian Ocean Territory; representatives of the Governments of both countries; and, subject to normal immigration requirements, contractor personnel. Access for any other person, ship or aircraft requires prior consultation between the appropriate administrative authorities of the two Governments.

The facilities on Diego Garcia are intended for military use and it is unlikely that approval would be granted under the Exchange of Notes for a charter aircraft carrying visitors to land. Any Chagossians who were successful in securing employment on Diego Garcia with the US contractor would be transported in the same manner as all other employees after the completion of security checks.