GIVEN THE recent deportation flights to Jamaica and the low pay outs from the Windrush Compensation Scheme we will have to wait and see if the now published Lessons Learnt Review by Wendy Williams will help right the wrongs of the Windrush Scandal.
We must remember that without public support over 180,000 people signed my petition in March 2018 which demanded an amnesty for anyone who was a minor when they came to Britain between 1948 to 1973.
Victims sharing their experiences of the hostile environment in the media and the lobbying of Caribbean diplomats and race equality and migrant charities all contributed to a perfect storm to force the government not only to apologise.
It was an international humiliation for UK government ministers, rightly seen as one of the biggest human rights abuses of British citizens since World War II.
The government was first in denial that was even an issue, then blamed members of the Windrush Generation for not sorting out their paperwork.
Ministers refused to see Caribbean government leaders and then they forced to admit that the Immigration Act 2014 and the policy of the hostile environment had caused the scandal.
We must also remember that five people have died in the UK of long-term conditions linked to the stress and trauma of the hostile environment.Patrick Vernon OBE
Amber Rudd had no choice but to resign as she lied to parliament, the public and especially the Windrush Generation.
The government responded by introducing the Windrush Taskforce to fast track applications for citizenship.
It suspended deportation flights; established the Lessons Learnt review and then went onto launch the Windrush Compensation scheme.
After all this what would be our assessment of progress?
Well just over 8000 people have had citizenship granted to them.
But over 1000 cases have been refused mainly with minor convictions or told by the Home Office they are not of ‘good character’.
There are many thousands of people that have still not come forward to resolve their status as there is still a lack of trust of the Home Office and the public bodies who implement the hostile environment policy and procedures.
We must also remember that five people have died in the UK of long-term conditions linked to the stress and trauma of the hostile environment.
The Home Office has not in the last two years developed a community engagement strategy or funded grassroots and faith groups who are supporting victims’ access justice.
I launched the Windrush Justice Fund with JCWI where I raised money to give grants to support legal surgeries run by Black Cultural Archives in London and other organisations around the country.
We thus need a strong commitment from the government to deliver the recommendations in the Lessons Learnt Review. We need the following actions:
1.Full implementation of the recommendations with an action plan over the next 12- 18 months
2. Appointment of an independent advisory/oversight group with an independent chair to review progress and the implementation of the recommendation with Home Office and other government departments. The Chair and advisory group report directly to Prime Minister and senior officials at Number 10 and Cabinet Office.
3. With the low payment of the compensation scheme by the Home Office we need action in light considering COV-19 virus that immediate and automatic payments of 10k paid to all victims and their estates why been processed by the Windrush Taskforce around citizenship. The management of these compensation claims should do another agency or organisation outside the Home Office.