The Windrush Lessons Learned Review that’s just been published has found a pervasive culture in the Home Office of disbelief and disregard for rights and humanity.
At the heart of the Windrush story was a refusal to believe people when they told their own life stories, even when backed up by extensive evidence.
There are significant parallels between the Windrush nightmare and the suffering of others who experience the UK asylum and immigration system. The Home Office has also refused many asylum claims from LGBTQI+ people even when they have had plenty of evidence.
The asylum and immigration system frequently assumes that applicants are telling lies, even when they have suffered so much. It is inefficient and inhumane.
We need an urgent overhaul of the asylum and immigration system. This must include a commitment to an asylum system that has a culture of protection at the core, and a humane immigration system that safeguards and preserves dignity.
We have joined 24 other organisations in signing the letter below, which responds to the Windrush Lessons Learned Review.
The Windrush Report: NGO joint statement
19 March 2020
The nation was shocked and appalled when the Windrush scandal hit the news in 2018. Rightly so, for what happened was the destruction of the lives of black Britons as a direct result of a Government policy.
The Windrush Lessons Learned Review puts beyond any doubt what we have said all along: that the scandal was not an isolated mistake, but the inevitable result of Home Office policies aimed at creating a Hostile Environment for people unable to easily prove their right to be in the country. To this day the elements of institutional racism and policies responsible for the scandal, including the Hostile Environment, continue to tear lives apart.
Justice for the Windrush Generation will not be fully served until the Hostile Environment is scrapped and the attitudes which drove its creation are rooted out.
The Review shows that the Home Office culture of disregard for people’s human rights and humanity and disbelief of their testimony and that of experts is pervasive from ministerial level down.
When he ordered this Review, then Home Secretary Sajid Javid said that what happened with the Windrush scandal must ‘never again happen to any group of people’. Yet still now, every day, many marginalised people, including asylum seekers, are disbelieved, dismissed, detained and even removed to places where they may not be safe.
Nothing can truly atone for what happened to the Windrush generation. But just as the scandal marked a turning point in public understanding of the human impact of Home Office policy, so this Review must mark a turning point in Government leadership on immigration, if Britain is to believe in its own capacity for humanity, decency and fairness.
Black Cultural Archives
Center for Migration Advice and Research
Freedom from Torture
Helen Bamber Foundation
Human Rights Watch
Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI)
Jesuit Refugee Service UK
McKenzie Beute and Pope Immigration Practioners
Muslim Council of Britain
Peter Tatchell Foundation
Pastor Clive Foster, Pilgrim Church Nottingham
Preston Windrush Generation and Descendants UK
Rabbi Danny Rich
Survivors Speak OUT
UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG)
Welsh Refugee Council
Bishop Dr Desmond Jaddoo & Charlie Williams, Windrush Movement (UK)