The Last Colony: A Tale of Race, Exile and Justice from Chagos to The Hague
The Last Colony is a book which deals with Britain’s last colony in Africa and the continuing struggle of a British possession for independence.
In the 1960s, a secret decision was taken to offer the US a base at Diego Garcia, one of the islands of the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean (then part of the British-controlled territory of Mauritius), create a new colony (the ‘British Indian Ocean Territory’) and deport the entire local population. One of those inhabitants was Liseby Elysé, twenty years old, newly married, expecting her first child. One suitcase, no pets, the British ordered, expelling her from the only home she had ever known.
For four decades the government of Mauritius fought for the return of Chagos. Over the past decade Philippe Sands has been intimately involved in the cases. In 2018 Chagos and colonialism finally reached the World Court in The Hague. As Mauritius and the entire African continent challenged British and American lawlessness, fourteen international judges faced a landmark decision: would they rule that Britain illegally detached Chagos from Mauritius? Would they open the door to Liseby Elysé and her fellow Chagossians returning home – or exile them forever?
Philippe Sands QC is a best-selling author, a professor of Law at UCL and an international lawyer. He has been involved in many of the most important international cases of recent years, including Pinochet, Congo, Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Iraq, Guantanamo and the Rohingya. He is the author of Lawless World, Torture Team, East West Street, which won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction, and Sunday Times bestselling The Ratline. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, Guardian, New York Review of Books and Vanity Fair, and makes regular appearances on radio and television. He is also President of English PEN and a member of the board of the Hay Festival.
Samantha Knights is a co-director of the Shute Festival and resident in Devon. She is a barrister (Queen’s Counsel) specialising in public law and civil liberties including refugee and trafficking law. She is also Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Miami. She is the author of two books on religion and law.