A rpeort by Tom Barnes for London’s Independent.
‘Once you focus on people, it is hard to step away from the emotions. I think all of the cases are upsetting in a different way’
Three Windrush citizens wrongly deported from the UK to the Caribbean have died before they could be repatriated, Jamaica’s foreign minister has said.
British officials have asked authorities across the Caribbean for help tracing the families of the individuals thought to have died.
The Home Office believes at least 164 Windrush citizens caught up in the scandal have either been incorrectly deported or detained by British authorities despite having the right to live in the UK.
Jamaican foreign minister, Kamina Johnson-Smith, said authorities were finding it hard to trace relatives of those who had died after being wrongly deported, describing the situation as “heartrending”.
“We have just received the information that they are dead. We have to find the families,” she told The Guardian.
“There are no mobile numbers on the national registry. You might end up in a community, asking if people know the people who live beside them. It can be quite painstaking, our team is on it every day.”
“It is an emotional issue. The stories are heartrending, there is no other word to use.
“Once you focus on people, it is hard to step away from the emotions. I think all of the cases are upsetting in a different way.”
Home secretary, Sajid Javid, last week vowed to issue apologies to the families of 18 people the Home Office deemed “most likely to have suffered detriment” as a result of the scandal.
The Home Office said once identified, the families of the three individuals wrongly deported to Jamaica who had since died would be issued with “personal apologies”.
It added officials were continuing to work with Caribbean governments and high commissioners to track down the 15 people considered to be urgent cases.
“The experiences faced by some members of the Windrush generation are inexcusable,” a Home Office spokesperson said.
“The home secretary and the immigration minister have said that it is their priority to right the wrongs that have occurred.
“Our historical reviews into removals and detentions have identified 18 people who it is believed could have been wrongfully removed or detained. Three of the 18 people have been confirmed as having died.
“The Home Secretary will be writing to the families of the deceased as well as the other 15 people identified to offer a personal apology.”
Amnesty International criticised the decision to only apologise to 18 of the dozens of individuals, saying it was “worrying” and cast doubt on the government’s willingness to learn from the scandal.
In its initial response to the Windrush scandal in April, the government said there was “no evidence” anyone had been wrongly deported, although the figure has since been gradually increased to 83.
A further 81 people who either settled legally in the UK from Caribbean nations in the years after the Second World War or were born in Britain to Windrush generation parents, are thought to have been at some point incorrectly detained but not deported.