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THE deaths of three British citizens who were wrongly deported to the Caribbean bring “shame” on the hostile environment’s “architect” Theresa May and her government, Labour said yesterday.
Shadow home secretary Diane Abbott called on the Prime Minister to “personally apologise” for “the latest tragic injustice suffered by our fellow citizens as a direct result of the Tories’ hostile environment.”
The three British citizens who died were among several priority cases identified by the government in a belated attempt to “right the wrongs” of the Windrush scandal.
The Home Office said historical reviews into removals and detentions identified 18 people it believes may have been wrongfully removed or detained.
A spokeswoman for the department said Home Secretary Sajid Javid “will be writing to the families of the [three] deceased, as well as the other 15 people identified, to offer a personal apology.”
But Ms Abbott said: “A letter from the Home Secretary is not good enough.
“Theresa May must stop using the Home Secretary as her human shield and take responsibility for the Windrush scandal and the suffering it has caused.”
Earlier this month, Mr Javid disclosed the findings of a review of nearly 12,000 historical records, which identified 164 members of the Windrush generation who may have been removed, detained or stopped at the border.
All of those flagged up are being put in contact with a specialist taskforce and directed to a compensation scheme, but the government is prioritising the 18 cases where the Home Office is deemed “most likely” to have acted wrongfully.
Eleven of those 18 had voluntarily departed, with some having been served with immigration enforcement notices informing them they had no right to be in Britain, while in the other seven cases people were detained and subsequently released without being removed.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that three of the 18 died before officials were able to contact them to help them return to Britain.
Jamaican Foreign Minister Kamina Johnson-Smith told the paper: “We have just received the information that they are dead. We have to find the families.”
Ms Abbott demanded Ms May apologise to the families and loved ones of “our fellow citizens dying thousands of miles from their homes, families and friends and our health service.”
She said the latest revelations showed that “the true scale of this scandal is still being revealed and the Home Office has not come clean about how many of the Windrush generation were deported.
“We still do not have the final figures of how many people were forced into so-called voluntary deportations, barred from re-entering the country after visiting family overseas or detained as prisoners in their own country.”
Ms Abbott pledged that Labour will “ensure that the Windrush generation get the justice they deserve” and would also “end the Tories’ hostile environment to prevent these injustices being repeated.”
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