In order to assist in bringing the claim the two men have today launched a crowdfunding campaign through CrowdJustice. The funds raised would be used in the event that the they are required to pay the UK government’s legal costs.
The interpreters are fighting for equality with Iraqi interpreters who benefitted from an assistance scheme offering protection and support, including the option to resettle in the UK following their work with British Forces in Iraq. The Afghan interpreters have not been afforded the same provisions and following a decision in the High Court in 2015 which dismissed their claims they are now applying to the Supreme Court to appeal that decision in the hope that they can settle safely in the UK.
The two men, known as Rafi and AL, gave important and dangerous service as interpreters to the UK armed forces in Helmand. As a result of their work for the UK, the men and their families, like many other former interpreters, have suffered attacks, injuries and been subjected to threats to their life and intimidation by the Taliban.
In their legal case they argue that the government had failed to comply with its public sector equality duties when reaching its decision not to provide former Afghan interpreters with the same resettlement scheme as former Iraqi interpreters.
The Claimants argue the dangers faced by former Afghan interpreters are no different from those faced by their Iraqi counterparts and that they should be afforded the same benefits in accordance with the UK Government’s obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and the common law.
The High Court in its decision of 8th July 2015 dismissed the interpreters’ claim on the basis that it fell outside of the territorial scope of the Equality Act and that there was no discrimination of the basis of nationality. The Court of Appeal upheld this decision in May 2016. An application to appeal was lodged at the Supreme Court on Friday 11 August 2017.
Leigh Day solicitor Rosa Curling, who is representing Rafi and AL, said:
“Our clients joined in the fight against the Taliban, working side by side with the British Forces in Afghanistan, risking their own lives for the safety of our soldiers.
“As a result of their work, they and their families now face serious risks and the UK government is failing to help them.
“It is crucial that the Supreme Court hears our clients’ appeal, which simply seek equal treatment. Former interpreters from Iraq were offered an ex gratia scheme by which they were entitled to resettle in the UK. Former interpreters from Afghanistan should be offered the same.”
Joanna Sidhu of CrowdJustice said:
“CrowdJustice is committed to increasing access to justice wherever a case is – from the County Courts and tribunals to the Supreme Court. This campaign gives people the opportunity to come together and support the brave interpreters who risked their lives helping the British Armed Forces in Afghanistan."