Afghan journalists take relocation fight to UK High Court

Lawyers representing journalists say they are at risk of being killed by the Taliban

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 programme. AFP
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A judge at the High Court is set to rule on whether eight Afghan journalists who worked for British media companies in Afghanistan can relocate to the UK, following a fight with government ministers.

The journalists have taken legal action against Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Suella Braverman after failing in bids to relocate to the UK.

Lawyers representing the journalists said they had worked in “high-profile roles for the BBC and other media agencies” and were at risk of “being killed by the Taliban”.

They 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 programme.

The journalists, who are being represented by British law firm Leigh Day, said they have been told they do not “meet the eligibility criteria” but have not been given “any or adequate reasons” as to why.

They added that their applications under a discretionary policy have also been refused, calling the decision “unreasonable and unfair”.

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Lawyers representing the government said the claim should be dismissed and argue that the claimants were “independent journalists”.

They said the “reasoning in the decision letters” was “adequate and rational”.

The government ministers had a “very broad discretion” when “setting and applying” the criteria for acceptance under the relocation policy, their lawyers said, and added that journalists are not “expressly included for eligibility”.

Due to security issues, the judge said the journalists could not be identified in media reports of the case.

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Updated: December 15, 2022, 10:47 PM