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Tuesday 1 May 2018

Press Release; BMElawyers4Justice Launch; Windrush 11 point plan

London, 1st May 2018: BMELawyers4Justice (formerly BMELawyers4Grenfell), an organisation comprised of some of the UK’s leading BME legal specialists, community justice groups and the wider community, are in the process of challenging this Government’s immigration and deportation policies affecting those who either entered or whose parents/grandparents entered the UK as Commonwealth citizens under the express invitation of the UK government.  

The ‘Windrush Scandal’, is not isolated to Windrush.  The same issues affect many others, both from the Commonwealth and those born overseas. Despite having been told that they were part of the Empire, these migrants were met with a wave of prejudice and sometimes outright hostility, something they had not been prepared for.

It has now emerged that many have been deported and others still face being threatened with deportation under new immigration rules whereby people are being ordered to prove they have the right to be in the UK to rent property, work or access services and benefits, despite living and working here for decades, some over 50 years.

We are only now told that the government failed to keep detailed records of Windrush arrivals, and landing cards recording their arrival dates were destroyed in 2010, months after Theresa May became Home Secretary.  In May 2012, Theresa May said the new measures were designed to create a "hostile environment" for people who were in the UK illegally.  That hostile environment has led to numerous deportations, including Windrush migrants settled in this country for decades being deported ‘in error’ and others being refused re-entry to the UK. 

Whilst we welcome the resignation of Home Secretary Amber Rudd this is not enough.

We propose an 11-Point Plan for reparations of the human rights abuse suffered by the Windrush and Commonwealth generation and their descendants:

1. The immediate resignation of Prime Minister Theresa May as the chief architects of policies designed to create a hostile, unfair and racist environment.

2. An independent Ombudsman be appointed to investigate and establish how many people have been wrongly detained or deported and order the immediate return of those unlawfully deported and award full compensation for all those that have suffered loss, financial or otherwise, (injury to feelings of the highest tier under the Vento guidelines) for those who faced deportation, lost employment housing or access to NHS and other basic services;

3. The immediate grant of full UK citizenship of all those Commonwealth citizens in the UK before 1973 & their descendants;

4. All those affected by the 2014 Act to be protected from deportation or administrative removal as so called “foreign criminals”;

5. An immediate end to the adoption of immigration targets for removals or deportations;

6. A halt to the practice of paying Commonwealth Governments for those deported or removed under any circumstances;

7. An impact assessment by the Children’s Commissioner on the effect on the children affected by these policies;

8. A guarantee that the current rights of Commonwealth citizens will not be rendered unlawful or more precarious in any post Brexit immigration policy being formulated by the Home Office;

9. A full review and report to be laid before Parliament within 6 months on the implementation of the above legislative and policy changes by the Immigration Ombudsman;

10. Home Office removals and deportations to be subject to an annual independent audit to ensure the policies ad practices conform to a culture shift to ensure a compassionate and humane approach in line with the letter and spirit of Article 8 ECHR.

11.The Home Secretary shall have the power to revoke British Citizenship removed forthwith.

D. Peter Herbert OBE, co-founder of BMELawyers4Justice and Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers, said: “The newly appointed Home Secretary will need to urgently address the fact that his department is institutionally racist and has over 50% of its decisions overturned on appeal.” 

Ismet Rawat, co-founder of BMELawyers4Justice and President of the Association of Muslim Lawyers. She added “Those of us working in the criminal justice system at the time of the Macperson Report were hopeful that it marked a turning point for this country as a whole.  Sadly, despite the phenomenal work undertaken and its 70 recommendations, it was soon left on the shelf.”

Zita Holbourne, National Chair & Co-founder BARAC UK said: “That the government would authorise a flight to Jamaica in the midst of the Windrush Scandal beggars belief. There has to be protection for not just those of the Windrush generation but their families also." 

Lee Jasper of Black Sox saidThe Government knowingly pursued a strategy of state endorsed racism. The PM’s dogged refusal to take full political responsibility is further evidence of the utter and total contempt, this Government holds black people in the UK, today.  Now the focus must be on removing Theresa May as Prime Minister, who knowingly allowed British black citizens to be arbitrarily arrested detained and deported.

For further information please contact:
D Peter Herbert O.B.E – Society of Black Lawyers – 07973 794 946
Ismet Rawat – Association of Muslim Lawyers – 07852 146 056
Zita Holbourne – Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) – 07711 861 660
Lee Jasper – 07984 181797

Notes to Editors 

About BMELawyers4Justice
BMELawyers4Grenfell is an umbrella group comprising of leading British BME lawyer andcommunity justice groups – Society of Black Lawyers, Association of Muslim Lawyers, Blaksox, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK Society of Asian Lawyers, Operation Black Vote (OBV) who have been working, severally and jointly, for over 40 years in the pursuit of justice in our communities. We are joined and supported by BME lawyers and community groups and volunteers.

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