European Journal of Law Reform

Article

The Windrush Scandal

A Review of Citizenship, Belonging and Justice in the United Kingdom

Keywords Windrush generation, statelessness, right to nationality, genocide, apologetic UK Human Rights Act Preamble
Authors Namitasha Goring, Beverley Beckford en Simone Bowman
Author's information

384235 Namitasha Goring
Namitasha Goring, Law and Criminology Lecturer Haringey Sixth Form College, LLM, PhD.

384238 Beverley Beckford
Beverly Beckford, Barrister (Unregistered) (LLM).

384241 Simone Bowman
Simone Bowman, Barrister (LLM Candidate DeMontford University).
  • Abstract

      This article points out that the UK Human Rights Act, 1998 does not have a clear provision guaranteeing a person’s right to a nationality. Instead, this right is buried in the European Court of Human Rights decisions of Smirnova v Russia, 2003 and Alpeyeva and Dzhalagoniya v. Russia, 2018. In these cases, the Court stretched the scope of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, 1953 on non-interference with private life by public authorities to extend to nationality. The humanitarian crisis arising from the Windrush Scandal was caused by the UK Government’s decision to destroy the Windrush Generation’s landing cards in the full knowledge that for many these slips of paper were the only evidence of their legitimate arrival in Britain between 1948 and 1971.
      The kindling for this debacle was the ‘hostile environment policy’, later the ‘compliant environment policy’ that operated to formally strip British citizens of their right to a nationality in flagrant violation of international and domestic law. This article argues that the Human Rights Act, 1998 must be amended to include a very clear provision that guarantees in the UK a person’s right to a nationality as a portal to a person’s inalienable right to life. This balances the wide discretion of the Secretary of State under Section 4 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act, 2002 to deprive a person of their right to a nationality if they are deemed to have done something seriously prejudicial to the interests of the UK.
      This article also strongly recommends that the Preamble to the UK Human Rights Act, 1998 as a de facto bill of rights, be amended to put into statutory language Independent Advisor Wendy Williams’ ‘unqualified apology’ recommendation in the Windrush Lessons Learned Report for the deaths, serious bodily and mental harm inflicted on the Windrush Generation. This type of statutory contrition is in line with those of countries that have carried out similar grievous institutional abuses and their pledge to prevent similar atrocities in the future. This article’s contribution to the scholarship on the Human Rights Act, 1998 is that the Windrush Generation Scandal, like African slavery and British colonization, has long-term intergenerational effects. As such, it is fundamentally important that there is a sharp, comprehensive and enforceable legal mechanism for safeguarding the rights and interests of citizens as well as settled migrants of ethnically non-British ancestry who are clearly vulnerable to bureaucratic impulses.

Please sign in to access the article



Did you receive an activation code but no access yet? Please activate your code here.

Forgot your password? Request new password.

Purchase access

You can purchase online access to this article. You will receive 24 hrs access @ € 17,50 (excl. VAT).

24 hrs access € 17,50 (excl. VAT)

Activate your code

If you have an access code, please activate it here.