Amendment 22

Part of Safety of Rwanda (Asylum and Immigration) Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords am 8:45 pm ar 4 Mawrth 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Baroness Coussins Baroness Coussins Crossbench 8:45, 4 Mawrth 2024

My Lords, I strongly support Amendment 44 in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, to which I would have been more than happy to add my name had there not been a limit of four sponsors for each amendment.

As we have already heard, one of the groups of Afghans to whom this exemption would apply would be the interpreters who worked with the UK Armed Forces in Afghanistan, whose predicament at the hands at the Taliban I have been highlighting in your Lordships’ House for over 10 years now. I am happy to say that many thousands of Afghan interpreters have succeeded in being relocated to the UK with their family members, but there are others whose claims under the various schemes have been unfairly or inexplicably rejected and who still live in fear, as do their family members. Only two weeks ago, I was contacted by one such individual, who had worked as an interpreter and translator. He said it was common knowledge in his community that he had been working for the British, so he felt forced to flee to a third country where he is now living in hiding, in fear of his life, with his mother and younger brother.

The importance of this proposed new clause to this individual and others like him is that his application under ARAP was refused on the grounds that he was not directly employed by HMG. His employment as an interpreter and translator was with a global agency under a contract that that organisation had with DfID to provide translation and interpreting services to the Armed Forces and to UK government projects in Afghanistan. So he would clearly fall under the terms of proposed subsection (1)(b) of this new clause in relation to indirect employment, and his family would fall under Clause 1(c).

To me he appears to be typical of the brave linguists who worked with pride for the UK but who, in the end, may feel forced to seek access to the UK by what would be treated as illegal means. In no way should he then have to face the indignity of being further removed to Rwanda. His loyalty is to the UK.

I am equally concerned about those who worked for the British Council as well as the so-called Triples, whom the noble Lord, Lord Browne, mentioned. Some of these Afghans are also in hiding, in fear of kidnap, violence and death threats at the hands at the Taliban. If forced to seek asylum here other than through an official route, they also deserve our gratitude, respect and protection. I appeal to the Minister to accept the amendment and to undertake to review all ARAP rejections, not just those of the Triples.