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Afghan interpreters accuse Def. Min.

Afghan interpreters contest reasons for not receiving asylum; Minister accepts imprecise wording.

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Afghan interpreters are contesting the reasons given by Defence Minister Nick Hækkerup for not affording them asylum in Denmark, saying some of them at least were employed from the local area in which they functioned, according to TV2 News.

The disclosure refutes statements some time ago by the defence minister that Denmark has not used interpreters from a local region, in that region, for their safety.

The TV2 News programme said that Denmark had used at least seven interpreters from the Danish area of operation in Helmand, with two of them still working for Denmark.

One of the interpreters, who worked for Denmark between 2007 and 2009 says that he is definitely from Helmand Province.

“I would like to say to his face: I am from Helmand. If you want to see my identification papers, I have them. I was born in Helmand and grew up in Helmand,” the anonymised interpreter says.

He took part in patrols with Danish soldiers in Helmand, and continues to be attached to the ISAF forces in Afghanistan. His work involved attachments a few kilometres from his home in Helmand’s provincial capital Lashkar Gah.

The allegation is in direct conflict with statements by the defence minister, who in February this year said: “Unlike during the Iraq War, the interpreters we use in Afghanistan are not local. This means that when they have finished their jobs, they do not have to re-enter their local area again and be disliked.”

Following the Iraq War, interpreters who had worked for Denmark were given special permission to seek asylum in Denmark, but in his interview on February 12, Hækkerup said Afghan interpreters would not be given the same opportunity.

“In Iraq, local interpreters were used in the local area where they were at risk. Here we do not use local interpreters, but ones that come from elsewhere in Afghanistan,” Hækkerup said on February 12.

Reacting to the new information, Defence Minister Nick Hækker says that the reports are correct and that he had been imprecise in his statements on whether local interpreters had been used.

“What I should have said was that we predominantly use interpreters who do not come from Helmand,” Hækkerup tells TV2 News.

He adds that he is to stress to the military that it must no longer us local interpreters in Helmand.

Army Operational Command says that it has availed itself of more than 100 interpreters in Afghanistan.

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