The Home Office are reviewing their country policy on the risks to Afghan interpreters after granting asylum to AR, a former military interpreter for international troops in Afghanistan.
AR worked for seven years on the front line in Afghanistan, putting his life at risk on a regular basis, interpreting for US and EU forces in their fight against the Taliban. Because of his work as an interpreter AR and his family received numerous written and telephone threats from the Taliban. Following the US decision to start troop withdrawal in 2014, AR could not be protected and was forced to flee.
AR arrived in the UK in December 2014. He was detained, his claim for asylum was rejected by the Home Office, and his appeal dismissed by the FtT. The Home Office then attempted to remove him on a chartered plane to Afghanistan in April 2015. A successful legal challenge brought by Duncan Lewis prevented his removal, and persuaded the Upper Tribunal that his appeal had been wrongly dismissed because of legal errors in FtT’s assessment of the Taliban threat.
A full re-hearing was set before the Upper Tribunal in early-January 2016. In preparation for the appeal, ARs lawyers prepared a substantial body of evidence establishing that military interpreters are high priority targets, and to such an extent that the Taliban can and do track them down in Kabul, a city generally deemed safe by the Home Office. The evidence included reports from leading country experts, military personnel, NGOs and other former interpreters currently hiding in Afghanistan in fear of their lives.
Just days before AR’s new appeal hearing, the Home Office agreed to withdraw the decision refusing asylum, and reconsider his case in light of the new evidence .
The Home Office granted AR asylum in March 2016 and have advised our firm that the Home Office Policy Team will reconsider their Country Information Guidance on the risk to Afghan interpreters and others collaborating with Western coalition forces in Afghanistan, originally published in February 2015.
Lewis Kett, of Duncan Lewis Solicitors, who represented AR, stated as follows in relation to the case:
“We are delighted that the Home Office have finally made the right decision in granting AR asylum. We now hope the Home Office takes this opportunity to properly undertake a review of how they approach protection claims for Afghan interpreters who arrive in the UK. These interpreters put their lives on the line to assist British, American and other Western forces in their efforts to stabilise the country and our evidence clearly suggests they are now being tracked down, and tortured or killed. Their role has a particularly symbolic value to the Taliban given that they acted essentially as the face and voice for Western forces and marked them out in the eyes of the Taliban as traitors to their country and as a priority target. Our evidence suggests that the Taliban have the determination and capacity to track down such ‘traitors’ even in Kabul. The evidence also clearly shows that simply quitting their employment will not be enough to prevent the Taliban continuing to target them.”
AR was represented by Lewis Kett, of the Public Law Department at Duncan Lewis Solicitors, and Ali Bandegani, barrister at Garden Court Chambers.