Government opposes special refugee ruling for army interpreters

The cabinet has decided there is to be no new ruling to protect foreigners who act as interpreters for the Dutch army on foreign missions, despite opposition calls for action.

MPs on Tuesday night debate the safety of interpreters in light of the case of Abdul Ghafoor Ahmadzai. He worked for the Dutch army in Uruzgan and first fled to Norway in 2010 after his brother was murdered. He came to the Netherlands when his asylum claim there was rejected.

Junior justice minister Fred Teeven had planned to deport Ahmazai to Norway, where he faced being returned to Afghanistan but has now relented and told the immigration services to investigate his case.


Opposition MPs had called on the government to come up with proper rules to cover interpreters but Labour MPs said this is unnecessary.

Defence minister Jeanine Hennis told MPs during the debate interpreters and other locals who work for Dutch missions are not abandoned. ‘They deserve full support,’ she said.

There are, she said, sufficient options to protect interpreters. Military chiefs can request protection – which may lead to refugee status – and interpreters can request it themselves, although many are not aware of this option.

Around 120 locals worked for the Dutch as interpreters in Uruzgan between 2006 and 2010.

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