The UK high court’s administrative court Thursday ruled that the human rights of two Windrush members were breached by the Home Office.
The court held that the claimants, Vernon Vanriel and Eunice Tumi, were denied citizenship purely because they failed to comply with the five years rule, as they were not present in the UK on the date exactly five years before they filed the application. The sole reason behind their failure to fulfill the residential requirement was that the Home Office had wrongfully prevented them from returning to the UK and had only granted them leave after the Windrush Scandal, wherein it emerged that black people were wrongly denied their lawful immigration status as a result of the government’s hostile environment policies.
Justice Bourne also noted that the Home Secretary had discretionary authority to disapply the requirement of the British Nationality Act 1981, which provides that a person must have been in the UK for five years before making an application for citizenship. However, the failure to exercise such discretion led to a violation of the claimants’ right to private and family life and their right not to be discriminated against, guaranteed under Articles 8 and 14, respectively, of the European Convention on Human Rights.
After the judgment, the solicitor for the claimants said:
This judgment is an absolute vindication for our clients who have shown amazing courage and determination to challenge the Home Office’s unlawful decisions. Our clients were locked out of the UK for years by the Home Office through no fault of their own, then told that they did not qualify for British citizenship because they did not meet the residency requirements.