Government criticised following 'suicide' of war translator facing deportation


The Government has been accused of "shameful" treatment of Afghan war translators over the case of an interpreter who reportedly killed himself while facing deportation from Britain.

Nangyalai Dawoodzai is understood to have worked for the British Army in Afghanistan for three years before fleeing the country after receiving death threats from the Taliban.

The 29-year-old, who paid people smugglers to reach the UK, was told his request for asylum in Britain had been rejected when it was found he had been fingerprinted in Italy on arrival in Europe, according to the Daily Mail.

Faced with being sent back to Italy to claim political asylum there he killed himself, a fellow translator told the newspaper.

Liberal Democrat peer Lord Ashdown, who has championed the cause of Afghan war interpreters for years, said their treatment was scandalous.

"This is the most tragic example of a shameful Government policy," he told the Daily Mail.

In March, David Cameron told the House of Commons a set of conditions for Afghan interpreters to be given sanctuary in Britain had been agreed while in coalition with the Lib Dems.

The Prime Minister said there was also a scheme in place for Afghans who want to help rebuild their war ravaged country.

According to the Daily Mail, at least three other interpreters who served UK forces in war zones currently face deportation because they were fingerprinted in mainland Europe before arriving in the UK.

Lord Ashdown said: "These people will have been at the frontline day in, day out, with no break for years. Given the way they have been treated, who in the future will ever offer to be an interpreter to help British soldiers do their job when we treat those who have served our troops so scandalously?"

Chairman of the Commons defence select committee, Dr Julian Lewis said he hoped the case would press UK authorities to take a "more generous and enlightened attitude" towards former interpreters, should Mr Dawoodzai's case be verified.

He said: "Many people will share my bafflement and concern that we seem unable to get rid of people who mean us harm and unwilling to take people who have served us loyally."

A former interpreter named only as Rafi, who helps coordinate work to support former colleagues, told the newspaper Mr Dawoodzai seemed "extremely depressed" when they spoke a month ago, adding that Afghans in Mr Dawoodzai's position feel betrayed when they are not granted asylum in the country they helped in battle.

Mr Dawoodzai reportedly told a fellow former interpreter he worked with British soldiers based at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

He had been staying at a hostel in Birmingham when his application was rejected when the Italian records were found. He was reportedly arrested and held in a detention centre for 18 days. On release he returned to the hostel while his paperwork was processed.

The interpreter told the newspaper: "He was depressed and very down. He said his life was at risk and no one cared ... he believed that Britain would help him because he had helped them. Now he has killed himself - it is so desperate."

West Midlands Police told the Daily Mail a man's body was found at an address in West Bromwich last Wednesday night. The death is not being treated as suspicious.