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Afghan journalists’ further legal action over case for relocation to UK

A group of Afghan journalists who worked for the British media received an apology from the UK Government for the 11 months they have waited for an answer to their pleas to move to Britain – only for their claims to be rejected just two weeks later.

Posted on 25 August 2022

The men are part of a larger group of seven colleagues, the majority of whom remain trapped in Afghanistan, and who have signalled the start of further legal action, claiming the refusal to allow them to start new lives in the UK is unlawful.

The group had previously resorted to a judicial review over the delays in processing their applications under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) following the massive withdrawal of UK forces from Afghanistan in August 2021. All were living in fear of the Taliban as a result of their roles in helping the UK Government with its work in Afghanistan for months and years before the withdrawal, Operation Pitting. Some of the group have been personally subjected to violence and torture at the hands of the Taliban, with violence inflicted on the family members of others.

The journalists withdrew the claim for judicial review after their legal representatives, Leigh Day, received an apology on behalf of the group from the Ministry of Defence for the delay in considering their claims and other administrative failures in the processing of their applications. At the end of July, Government lawyers said the majority of group’s cases would be considered as a matter of urgency.

Within weeks all seven members of the group had the decisions they had been waiting for – but all were rejections.

In response, Leigh Day has signalled the start of a fresh judicial review process, claiming the decisions are unlawful.

A pre-action protocol letter has been sent to the Defence Secretary, the Foreign Secretary and the Home Secretary.

The seven say there is clear and compelling evidence that they did meet the relevant criteria for relocation under ARAP, including that of contributing to the objectives of the UK government in Afghanistan. No justification has been given for rejecting the supporting evidence provided. It has been revealed that at least 100 Afghan journalists have been moved to the UK during and after Operation Pitting, a decision that appears inconsistent with the refusals in these cases.

The seven had also asked the Government to consider granting them visas under discretionary powers for exceptional cases, but those requests have been refused, without explanation.

The Government has been asked to reconsider the refusals and to urgently relocate the group to the UK.

Leigh Day lawyer Erin Alcock said:

“It is disappointing for our clients to have been left waiting for up to nearly a year for answers to their relocation applications, only to then be rejected. Our clients are hopeful that the Government will reconsider these decisions and evacuate them to safety, without the need to return to court.”

Barristers from Doughty Street Chambers, Adam Straw QC, Catherine Meredith and Donnchadh Greene, are also instructed in this matter.

Waleed Sheik
Human rights Judicial review

Waleed Sheikh

Waleed Sheikh is a partner in the human rights department.

Erin Alcock
Human rights Judicial review

Erin Alcock

Erin is an associate in the human rights team

News Article
human rights

Afghan journalists commence legal proceedings against unacceptable delays to claims for relocation to UK

Afghan journalists living in terror of the Taliban because of their former work with the British media have filed an application for judicial review after waiting months without their applications to relocate to the UK being processed.