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UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid Faces Criticism Over Apology to Windrush Victims

UK Home Office

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid is facing criticism after saying he would formally apologize to 18 victims of the Windrush scandal, who may have been wrongfully deported or detained by the country.

Human rights organizations and leaders are calling the move insufficient and narrow. Javid’s apology “brings into question whether the Home Office has a realistic grasp on all the people it has wrongly detained and removed following the exposure of its appalling treatment of the Windrush generation,” Steve Valdez-Symonds, Amnesty International UK’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Director, said in a statement.

Many British politicians also expressed unhappiness over the decision.

“I welcome the apology [from Mr Javid] but I don’t think it goes far enough,” Wolverhampton North East MP Emma Reynolds told the Express &Star. “I don’t think he should be restricting the apology to 18 individuals. I think there were more people impacted,”

Labour MP David Lammy described the apology as “a drop in the ocean & just spin until we know full numbers deported.”

Indians comprise the third largest group of immigrants caught in the Windrush scandal involving hundreds of people from Commonwealth countries who moved to the United Kingdom.

As many as 102 Indians were handed over legal documents to formalize their rights to live and work in the country by a special task force set into the issue, PTI reported. While most of the 2,272 cases reviewed by the Home Office unit belonged to the Caribbean countries of Jamaica (1,093) and Barbados (213). India came in third. There were 88 instances of people from Grenada while the Trinidad and Tobago followed with 86 individuals, and 690 cases fell in the Others category, according to figures released by Javid to Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee (HASC) on Aug. 21.

Of the 102 Indians, 69 persons were granted documentation under the “Windrush Scheme,” under which members of this generation, their children born in the United Kingdom and those who arrived in the country as minors are able to apply for citizenship free of charge, the news agency added.

Javid said he would issue a formal apology to 18 members of the Windrush generation from the Caribbean who were wrongfully removed from the country, even though the government has admitted that at least 83 people from the region may have been deported, the Independent reported. Of these 18 individuals of Caribbean descent, 11 persons voluntarily left the country while the remaining 7 were detained but subsequently released without being removed, the Home Office said.

“I would like to personally apologize to those identified in our review and am committed to providing them with the support and compensation they deserve,” Javid said. “We must do everything we can to ensure that nothing like this happens again – which is why I have asked an independent adviser to look at what lessons we can learn from Windrush.”

The 18 cases were identified by the task force as being those “most likely to have suffered detriment because their right to be in the UK was not recognized,” according to the Independent.

Javid had earlier revealed that over 2,000 people, including Indians, were given documents confirming their residency status. Almost 600 people have been granted British citizenship under a scheme that was established following the Windrush generation scandal.

The Windrush controversy refers to the Commonwealth nationals who arrived between 1948 and 1973 in the United Kingdom, which was facing severe shortage of laborers. Since they came from the Commonwealth countries, they were not given any documents upon their arrival in the country. Most of the immigrants facing deportation after Theresa May launched her “hostile environment policy” came with their parents as children, and have no documents to prove their right to live in the United Kingdom

The UK government initiated the “Windrush scheme” on May 2018 and a Home Office unit was given the task of reviewing 11,800 cases of detention or removal since 2002.