Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mauritius and Seychelles sign security agreement

Mauritius and Seychelles have signed a framework agreement on security and combating crime aimed at deepening existing cooperation between the two countries.

The agreement was signed in Mauritius between Mr. Jean Paul Adam, Seychelles’ Minister for Foreign Affairs and Dr. Arvin Boolell, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade of Mauritius during the 10th session of the Seychelles-Mauritius Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two countries will share knowledge, experiences and best practices to combat transnational crimes such as piracy, drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorism and illegal fishing. It also established the basis under which the countries may negotiate and agree joint protection and patrol of their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).

The Joint Commission is held every two years and is aimed at deepening the cooperation between the two states. The two ministers stressed that the Joint Commission talks would add impetus to existing bilateral cooperation in the fields of tourism, agriculture and culture and that the regional partnership would promote the ‘blue economy’ and the ‘Vanilla Islands Initiative’.

Sources: Seychelles Nation (7/9/2013); Today in Seychelles (10/9/2013)

Monday, June 17, 2013

Chagos marine park is lawful, British High Court rules

A coral atoll in the Chagos Islands
Chagos islands

A UK government decision to create a marine park in the Indian Ocean has been upheld by the High Court.

The controversial reserve was set up around the UK-controlled Chagos Islands in 2010, with commercial fishing banned in areas.

Former residents said it would effectively bar them from returning because fishing was their livelihood. The islanders were evicted in the 1960s to make way for the US Air Force base on the largest island, Diego Garcia.

Sitting in the High Court in London, Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Mitting ruled the marine protected area (MPA) was "compatible with EU law". This latest challenge is part of the islanders' long-running legal battle for the right of return.

The marine park was created by British diplomat Colin Roberts in his role as commissioner for the British Indian Ocean Territory on the instructions of the then foreign secretary in April 2010. The move followed consultations with the US during which the Americans were assured the use of their base on Diego Garcia would not be adversely affected by the reserve.

Under cross-examination at the High Court, Mr Roberts denied that the marine park had been created for the "improper purpose" of keeping the Chagossians out, as the US wanted, and said it was for environmental and conservation purposes.

Lawyers for the islanders said a classified US government cable published by WikiLeaks, a website with a reputation for publishing sensitive material, supported their accusations. They said Mr Roberts was reported in the cable as telling US diplomats at the US embassy in London in May 2009 that the park would keep the Chagossians from resettling on the islands and mean "no human footprints" or "Man Fridays" in the territory.

Nigel Pleming QC, for the exiled islanders, asked Mr Roberts about the alleged "Man Fridays" comment and suggested to him that it was "a totemic phrase that offends". Talking generally, Mr Roberts said he "absolutely" agreed and would never have used the phrase in such circumstances, but he refused to answer specific questions about the authenticity and accuracy of the cable.

Initially, the judges ruled Mr Roberts should answer questions about the cable, and could not rely on a government policy of "neither confirming nor denying" allegations involving matters of national interest. But after further submissions on behalf of the foreign secretary, the judges ruled that the Diplomatic Privileges Act 1964 meant the alleged cable, or copies of it held by newspapers, were inadmissible in evidence.

Olivier Bancoult, a spokesman for Chagossian exiles, gave his reaction to BBC News, speaking from his home in Mauritius, where most of the islanders were taken after their deportation.  "I am very disappointed that the judges did not consider the suffering of the Chagossian people," he said. "We don't understand how it is possible for foreigners - the Americans at the base - to live on the land of our birth while we natives are denied this right. It is one of the most shameful things for the British government to have done."

Mr Bancoult said he planned to launch an appeal against the judgement and to continue his campaign "to show the world that the British government has trampled on our rights".

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) welcomed the ruling and its recognition that "officials had acted properly and that the consultation process was valid". In a statement, the FCO also said that the Foreign Secretary William Hague had previously said that the policy towards Britain's Indian Ocean territories would be reviewed.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22852375#

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Mauritius assists Seychelles

Works to clear debris after Felling  (Source: NDRF)
The Government of Mauritius has made available a generous donation of USD 100,000.00 to the Government of Seychelles to assist with relief and recovery in the wake of the disasters caused by tropical cyclone "Felleng".

Seychelles became the first victim to be affected by "Felleng" between 27th to 29th January 2013 prompting the government to declare a state of emergency over three main districts along the east coast of Mahe. The total cost of losses and damages to property, agricultural losses and other infrastructures amounted to approximately 9 Million US Dollars. 

President James Michel set up a National Disaster Relief Fund (NDRF) immediately in order to raise local and international financial assistance for the families who were left without a home during the floods, as well as those who will need to repair their homes, as well as the surrounding infrastructure 

In a meeting with the local media today, Mrs. Lekha Nair, the Chair of the NDRF thanked the Government of Mauritius for this very generous donation. The Honorary Consul of Mauritius in Seychelles, Dr. Nirmal Jivan Shah is a Board Member of the NDRF which is made up of 3 senior civil servants and 3 persons from civil society.

Source: NDRF

Monday, April 29, 2013

Chagos : les documents Wikileaks jugés irrecevables

La Haute Cour de Londres a tranché : le Groupe Réfugiés Chagos (GRC) ne pourra pas utiliser les
correspondances diplomatiques anglo-américaines révélées par Wikileaks portant sur la création d’une Marine Protected Area autour de l’archipel des Chagos. Cela dans le cadre du procès instruit par Olivier Bancoult, président du GRC, contestant la légalité de la réserve marine la plus étendue du monde.

A l’heure des arguments, Steven Kovats, représentant légal du Foreign Office (FO), a, d’abord, tenté de faire valoir la politique gouvernementale de “neither confirm nor deny” (NCND) par rapport aux documents susmentionnés qui font état d’une machination de Londres et de Washington pour empêcher les Chagossiens de retourner sur leur terre natale. Puis, il a eu recours à l’article 24 de la Convention de Vienne sur les relations diplomatiques de 1961 selon lequel “les archives et les documents de la mission sont inviolables à tout moment et en quelque lieu qu’ils se trouvent”.

C’est justement en se basant sur la clause 24 de cette convention que les juges Richards et Mitting ont émis un jugement favorable au gouvernement britannique qui est, toutefois, en nette contradiction avec d’autres cas où les documents de Wikileaks ont été jugés recevables.

Malgré la déception, le GRC ne compte nullement baisser les bras, envisageant d’avoir recours au Comité des droits de l’Homme des Nations unies pour contester la violation des droits sur l’International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Le GRC compte également relancer la pétition initiée en mars 2012 qui a récolté plus de 20 000 signatures à Maurice et à l’étranger. Cette initiative vise à demander à l’administration américaine d’accepter sa part de responsabilité sur les torts causés à la communauté chagossienne.

Source: Le Matinal - http://www.lematinal.com

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Felix Maurel: Private investigator insinuate foul play, inquiry to move to Farquhar

A private investigator engaged by the Maurel family to help determined what happened to Felix Maurel who disappeared on Farquhar in April of 2010 has said his investigation suggest that was foul play involved given the circumstances of the disappearance.

The South African gave evidence in court on the third day of the hearing late last month, when the court concluded that it needs to retrace the footsteps of Mr Maurel on location at Farquhar itself in order to have a clearer insight into what could have happened.

The cost for the expedition is to be shouldered by the Maurel family, the same people who ordered the inquest initially and arrangements are ongoing for all parties concerned to go to Farquhar sometime later this month. 

In his statement to the court the South African investigator said he does not believe Mr Maurel went into the sea, or that he drowned for that matter as a result of that.

Most deponents in the case has suggested theoretically that Mr Maurel wnet into the sea at some point during the walk, as it was a very hot day and the sea was calm and inviting.

But the investigator said according to an experiment he carried out on his visit on the island, the body of Maurel would have remained afloat had he drowned, and would have been spotted by the search parties during the early days of the search.

Other testimonies adduced before the court so far state that Mr Maurel disappeared after abandoning a walk fifteen minutes into it accompanied by a bunch of friends he was holidaying with on Farquhar. 

Witnesses say he left the group to go back to where the boat was anchored, stating he was tired and not feeling well. 

But the skipper said Mr Maurel never made it back to the boat, stressing that he never left the boat out of view at any given time as he waited for group to return.

Source: Le Seychellois Hebdo

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ancient long-lost continent discovered under Mauritius

It’s not Atlantis, but a drowned continent has been discovered under Mauritius. The strip of continent, now at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, once connected Madagascar, Seychelles and India. As tectonic movement shifted the land masses apart, this land mass, now named Mauritia by researchers, was pushed to the bottom of the ocean, where it was broken apart by underwater volcanoes.

Evidence for this drowned, long-lost land comes from Mauritius where till date the oldest rocks collected on the island dated to about 8.9 million years ago, Yet grain-by-grain analyses of beach sand that says Bjørn Jamtveit, a geologist at the University of Oslo and his colleagues collected on the Mauritian coast revealed around 20 semi-preious zircons — tiny crystals of zirconium silicate that are resistant to erosion or chemical change — that were far older. The zircons had crystallized within granites or other igneous rocks at least 660 million years ago, says Jamtveit. One of these zircons was at least 1.97 billion years old.

Jamtveit and his colleagues suggest that rocks containing the travelling zircons originated in ancient fragments of continental crust located beneath Mauritius. They say that volcanic eruptions brought pieces of the crust to Earth’s surface, where the zircons eroded from their parent rocks to pepper the island’s sands. The team's work has been published in the journal Nature Geoscience.


Image: Prof.Trond H. Torsvik. University of Oslo

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Former Mauritian minister calls on leaders in Seychelles

Mr Gayan during his call on President Michel yesterday
Source: Seychelles Nation

Former Foreign Affairs Minister of Mauritius Anil Gayan called on President James Michel at State House on Tuesday April 2nd.

He also met Vice-President Danny Faure during his courtesy call on which he was accompanied by secretary of state for foreign affairs Barry Faure and ambassador Callixte d’Offay, who was previously serving as the secretary general of the Indian Ocean Commission whose headquarters is in Mauritius. Mr d’Offay is a roving ambassador to the Indian Ocean Islands (Mauritius, Madagascar and Comoros) and also a special envoy to La Reunion.

A lawyer by profession, Mr Gayan has been a member of the Mauritian parliament and has worked closely with major regional and global organisations.

Source: Seychelles Nation http://www.nation.sc/index.php?art=31012