Afghan interpreters in rights bid
Published 03/05/2013 | 06:36
Lawyers acting for three Afghan interpreters who have worked with British forces have launched a legal challenge against the Government's decision not to allow them to settle in the UK.
The interpreters face the threat of Taliban attacks in their homeland and their supporters claim they have been denied assistance offered by the Government to Iraqis in similar circumstances.
Now law firm Leigh Day has issued formal proceedings at the High Court on behalf of three Afghan nationals who worked for the British. The firm said the men are challenging the Government's decision not to provide assistance similar to that given to Iraqis who assisted UK forces.
Lawyers from Leigh Day have issued proceedings against the Foreign Secretary and Defence Secretary, claiming their situation is no different to the Iraqis and they should be afforded the same benefits in accordance with the Government's obligations under the Equality Act 2010.
Iraqis who qualified for assistance were eligible for a one-off package of financial assistance or exceptional indefinite leave to enter the UK, outside normal immigration rules.
The family of one of the men involved in the challenge, known as Abdul for security reasons, has already received threats, Leigh Day says. His father reported receiving a phone call from an unknown male calling him an "infidels spy" and adding: "We have found your place. Very soon you will see your punishment."
News of the legal challenge came as campaigners prepared to deliver a petition calling on the Government to immediately grant asylum to Afghan interpreters.
The petition, signed by more than 69,000 people, will be delivered to the Foreign Office on Friday afternoon by campaigners including former British servicemen, pressure group Avaaz said.
The move comes after Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday said Afghan interpreters who worked with the British armed forces should, where possible, stay on in their country to help rebuild it after years of conflict.
But campaigners have called for him to reconsider, with one interpreter saying: "Without asylum in the UK, the nightmare will continue for me, my family and many others - living in hiding and fearing for our lives. I risked everything to do this job and I never thought the British Government would abandon us like this. I beg them to reconsider."