Lawyers for two Afghan interpreters, who risked their lives working on behalf of British Forces in Afghanistan, have vowed to keep on fighting and to take their case to the Supreme Court.
They are challenging the current assistance schemes offered to former interpreters employed by the Ministry of Defence in Afghanistan.
The calls come as the Armed forces minister Mike Penning and one of the men taking the legal challenge, Rafi Hottak, a former Afghan interpreter, will be amongst those giving evidence tomorrow (Tuesday 7th February 2017) to the Commons Defence Committee on the position of interpreters who are recruited locally by British authorities.
Rosa Curling from the law firm Leigh Day who represents the men, said her two clients and other former interpreters were owed a ‘great debt of honour’.
As a result of the work they did for the British authorities in Afghanistan, many former interpreters are facing serious and sometimes deadly threats from the Taliban who view them as infidels.
Lawyers from Leigh Day have argued for several years that the current scheme offered to those who have risked their lives for the British, and now face violence and death threats, is unfair and unlawful.
They argue that the assistance provided to former Afghan interpreters is far less favourable than the one offered to former Iraqi interpreters and the men are being discriminated against and treated differently because of their nationality.
The scheme for Afghan ‘locally employed staff’ (LES), which includes interpreters, is far less beneficial than that offered to LES in Iraq, whose lives also became endangered through assisting the British in the war in their country. However in May 2016 Lady Justice Arden, Lord Justice David Richards and Sir Colin Rimer rejected the case and refused permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Rosa Curling, a lawyer in the human rights team at Leigh Day, said:
“The British Forces operating in Afghanistan could not have functioned without the assistance of locally employed staff, including men like our clients, former interpreters who exposed themselves to considerable personal risk to work with and protect our forces.
“The Taleban have exacted revenge against these locally employed staff, who have been subject to intimidation and attacks. “We hope the evidence the Commons Defence Committee hears will lead to the government putting in place a scheme equitable to the Iraqi scheme to these Afghans, to whom we owe a great debt of honour.
“If this is not the case we will continue to fight for our clients and challenge the decision barring an appeal to the Supreme Court."