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Scandinavia Today / Denmark


Open letter to Danish Premier, Helle Thorning - Schmidt, Urging her to grant Afghan interpreters asylum

Wednesday, 22 May 2013
The Danish Prime minister Halle Thorning is being urged to grant political asylum to some six Afghan interpreters who helped the Danish army in its mission in Afghanistan.
"We really hope that you will offer these interpreters welcome in Denmark," writes four International interpreters organizations in the letter to the prime minister.
Four international interpreter organizations have called in an open letter to the Danish government that Denmark should grants asylum to Afghan interpreters who have helped Danish forces in Afghanistan.
The grounds for this is that  interpretation or translation  in the warzone is one of the most dangerous professions and then in Afghanistan it is even more dangerous, according the interpreters' organizations, which have 80,000 members.
"We really hope that you will offer the interpreters welcome in Denmark,  the presidents of the four organizations said in their open letter, which was sent on Monday to Prime Minister Helle Thorning -Schmidt and Defense Minister Nick Hækkerup all of the Social Democrat Party.
The Minister of Defence has repeatedly stressed that Denmark has no direct labour legal responsibility to the Afghan interpreters, because the interpreters were formally employed by the British Army and only loaned to the Danish.
But the argument is the four interpreters organizations behind the letter are critical of the defence ministers approach, according to Jørgen Christian Wind Nielsen, who is the lead member of the Legal Committee of the International Federation of Translators - one of the four international interpreters organizations.
The Organizations have developed guidelines for the use of interpreters in conflict zones and believes that Denmark and several other Western forces break with ethical principles.
"The Afghan interpreters have in practice worked for the Danish army, and then there is a moral responsibility afterwards. Denmark may never be exonerated. Interpreters have really worked for us," says Jørgen Christian Wind Nielsen.
In the UK it looks like up to 600 Afghan interpreters will now be able to get a five-year visa, according to media reports in the UK.
By Team

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