ITV News Online – 10 September 2015
The Government's policy on granting asylum to Afghan interpreters who served alongside British soldiers is "wholly unacceptable", the Chairman of the country's Defence Committee has said. Julian Lewis said many faced a "clear and present threat" in Afghanistan after helping UK forces and called for Defence Secretary Michael Fallon to allow as many as 200 translators asylum. In a letter to Mr Fallon, Lewis wrote:
“It was recently reported that at least one interpreter has been tortured and murdered after a failed attempt to flee the country. Others live in constant fear of their lives.
“Despite this clear and present threat to their safety, the Government continues to deny them asylum in the United Kingdom. The Defence Committee consider this to be a wholly unacceptable way to treat proven friends and allies.”
Lewis' comments come following the setting up of a petition by Major James Driscoll calling on the Prime Minister to "Protect ALL Afghan interpreters who served with British troops". Major Driscoll, who has served three tours in Afghanistan, said:
"We owe them a debt that must be repaid. 'Moral duty' doesn't rest solely with the British soldier in Helmand, it is a British value that must be demonstrated by the Government as well."
Under the rules of the Government's current assistance scheme, interpreters who completed duties between 2006 and 2012 are not eligible for refugee status in the UK unless they prove they face violence from the Taliban in their home country.