Mon | Mar 18, 2019

UK Windrush pressure group demands transparency from Government

Published:Thursday | January 17, 2019 | 12:00 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer
The Empire Windrush. File *** Local Caption *** The Empire Windrush. File

The United Kingdom-based pressure group - Windrush Movement - is demanding greater transparency and assurances from the Jamaican Government, following the Windrush scandal and the apparent ease with which the British government has, in some cases, unjustifiably deported Jamaicans from the UK despite those affected having the right of abode.

Pressed into action as a result of the scandal, which threatened to embarrass the Theresa May administration, the movement noted that it wrote to Prime Minister Andrew Holness regarding various concerns that have been raised by the diaspora community in the UK.

"It has been raised that there is the existence of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed in 2007 between the Jamaican and UK governments, which apparently enables the UK to deport Jamaicans with ease," asserts the chairman of

the Windrush Movement, Dr Desmond Jaddoo.

He told The Gleaner that repeated attempts to acquire evidence of the MOU by his organisation and three UK members of parliament in that country have been blocked, with the authorities protecting the document as an agreement with a foreign government.

"Still, I find this quite amazing, owing to the impact it has been having on the diaspora community. To date, the Government of Jamaica has remained silent, and the Windrush Movement, while holding the UK Government to account, sees the need to also seek transparency and accountability from the Jamaican Government," Jaddoo noted.

In the letter addressed to Prime Minister Holness dated November 26, 2018, a copy of which was obtained by The Gleaner, Jaddoo questioned the content of the MOU, which he said appears to be a factor in the mass deportations of people of Jamaican heritage from the UK under the hostile environment laws that spawned the Windrush scandal.

'HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE'

Jaddoo also questioned the provision of emergency travel documents for those being deported from the Jamaican High Commission and has called the practice "highly questionable and should be ended".

Further, he has questioned why Jamaicans require visas to visit the UK, while the Queen is still the Head of State.

Jaddoo added: "It is essential that we provide a safe and trusted environment not only here in the UK, but also in Jamaica, where those affected can have the confidence to come forward in order to have the injustice that they have suffered remedied.

"In the meantime, the British Government is currently developing at an advanced stage their compensation programme, and we must ensure that all those affected both at home and abroad are properly compensated for the pain that they have had to endure," Jaddoo stated.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com