December 16, 2022

Taliban might kill us, Afghan BBC journalists beg UK court for relocation


By Biodun Busari

Eight Afghan journalists who worked for British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and other British media firms in Afghanistan have approached a London High Court to sue the United Kingdom’s ministers who refused their relocation to the UK.

The journalists were represented by legal representatives on Thursday saying they and their families are not safe in their country having worked for the UK-based media platforms.

They further said that they risk “being killed by the Taliban” having worked in “high-profile roles for the BBC and other media agencies.”

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According to Evening Standard, the journalists worked with the United States-aided Afghanistan government and British troops to reveal Taliban corruption before it captured Kabul in August last year.

They claimed there was an initial agreement to relocate to the UK but their applications were declined, forcing them to take legal action against Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Suella Braverman.

Adam Straw KC, the leading lawyer representing them said, “As a result of their work in support of His Majesty (HM) Government, the claimants and their families are at high risk of being killed by the Taliban.”

Straw said his clients worked closely alongside British troops offering information to the British mission as they played crucial roles in the development of independent media and democratic process.

“The claimants are Afghan nationals who worked in high-profile roles for the BBC and other media agencies in Afghanistan,” Straw added.

“They worked alongside HM Government, including alongside British troops and for organisations funded by HM Government.

“Their work closely supported HM Government’s objectives in Afghanistan; for example, by providing it with information, developing popular support for the British mission, undermining support for the Taliban, and playing an important role in the development of a free media and accountable democracy.”

He added, “As a result of their work in support of HM Government, the claimants and their families are at high risk of being killed by the Taliban.”

The lawyer said the journalists had applied for relocation to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy, but officials had decided they were not eligible for relocation under that scheme.

He said the journalists had been told they “did not meet the eligibility criteria” but had not been given give “any or adequate reasons” why.

According to the report, a spokeswoman of the law firm working for them said, “The eight journalists worked for the BBC and other agencies supporting the British military in Afghanistan, exposing Taliban corruption and abuse, distributing information, and promoting media freedom, democracy and human rights.”

She added: “After the military withdrawal, Kabul fell to the Taliban on 15 August 2021, putting these journalists at escalated risk.”