According to new data published by Human Rights Watch, Windrush scandal victims are still facing long waits and inadequate offers for compensation more than five years since the scandal was first uncovered.
A Home Office compensation scheme was established after it was revealed that thousands of British people, mostly of Caribbean descent, had been wrongly classed as illegal immigrants with often devastating consequences including people who had lived in Britain for their whole lives being wrongly deported. Others, including people from non-Caribbean countries who moved to the UK before
immigration laws changed in 1971 from previous British Colonies, found themselves unable to access work, housing or healthcare.
Solicitor Jacqueline McKenzie, who represents hundreds of Windrush victims, told the BBC that the scheme appears to be “getting worse”, noting that it was “torturing people” by asking them for “copious amounts of evidence which people just don’t have”.
Human Rights Watch has called for the management of the scheme to be handed over to an independent body as well as stating that “people should be entitled to legal aid for their compensation application, because the process was ‘complex, subject to arbitrary decision makers and just not accessible’. The organization also commented that the burden of proof placed on victims was “unreasonable”, because it required people to carry out complex and arbitrary inquiries such as tracking down employers and landlords who had turned them down years ago.
The report also claimed that “claimants do not feel that they would get a fair hearing” at the Home Office, given “it is the agency responsible for the injustices.” Recently, Anti-racism campaign group Black Equity Organization (BEO) is also calling for the scheme to be run by an independent body, with Chief Executive Wanda Wyporska commenting that the Home Office has “created a process that is so bureaucratic and complicated that some Windrush victims have died before they could successfully complete it.”