The UK’s Ministry of Defence has apologised after asking Afghan asylum seekers in hiding to get their documents stamped by the Taliban, the very people they are trying to flee.
Human rights groups have recorded how the Taliban have banned peaceful protests, executed alleged resistance fighters and suppressed women’s rights.
Yet the 37 Afghans were told their birth and marriage certificates must be in English and stamped by the government which one charity said was the equivalent of them being asked to “sign their own death warrant.”
One former translator told the Daily Mail that the error was “reckless” and “put their lives at risk” and said that he told several applicants that they should not follow the instructions.
The Afghans affected had applied to relocations and assistance policy scheme, Arap, under which citizens who worked with the British government or armed forces can apply to be relocated to Britain.
The Ministry of Defence estimates that around 4,600 people are eligible to be transferred to Britain under the Arap scheme but have not yet been relocated.
Many applicants are stuck in Afghanistan because the Taliban has all but stopped issuing children’s passports, reported the Independent, which published the initial investigation.
Labour MP and former soldier Dan Jarvis said: “Asking our Afghan allies to have their papers approved by the Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs is like asking them to sign their own death warrant.”
“These requests by the UK Government show a complete disregard to the grave realities eligible Afghans face, pushing desperate men into perilous situations.”
The Ministry of Defence has now emailed several of the applicants and told them not to contact the Taliban.
Last year it was widely reported that the Taliban were going door-to-door in a manhunt for anyone who worked with US-led forces or the previous Afghan government.
A report by a Norwegian intelligence group said they were rounding people up who were on a blacklist of those they believed had held key roles.
“Particularly at risk are individuals in military, police and investigative units,” said the report.
The same year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report documenting that former military personnel, police, intelligence service members and paramilitary militia had been killed and forcibly disappeared despite the Taliban’s announcement that there was an amnesty for former government civilian and military officials.
Earlier this year the UK government was accused of not acting swiftly enough as a humanitarian disaster unfolded following the fall of Kabul in the summer of 2021.