Afghanistan: Whether the British Embassy in Kabul has a procedure for handling cases of local employees who fear the Taliban; whether the embassy files police complaints on behalf of local employees; whether records of reports of threats by the Taliban against local employees are kept by the embassy; whether the employee would have access to such a report (2014-January 2016) [AFG105411.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official from the United Kingdom's Afghanistan Security Policy Team, within the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO), stated that if a local Afghan employee of the British Embassy in Kabul informed embassy authorities that he or she had grounds to fear the Taliban, the embassy would respond in the following manner:

The procedure is to pass the officer to the [UK Ministry of Defence's] Intimidation Investigation Unit to investigate the claims and provide support. The last resort would be relocation to the UK – there are many measures before that would be considered. In parallel, the Embassy Security team check whether the threat against the individual might also be a risk to the Embassy. (UK 13 Jan. 2016)

The FCO publishes a guidance document to support staff who are locally employed by the UK in Afghanistan and who face intimidation threats because of their employment; the document provides detailed information on protection and support measures that are employed by the UK government in such cases (ibid. 19 Nov. 2015); a copy of which is attached to this Response.

Regarding whether the embassy files police complaints on behalf of a locally employed staff person, the official stated the following:

We have in the past used the local authorities to help; we would not file a complaint for someone, that is not our role.  The Embassy has direct connections to the [Ministry of Foreign Affairs], [Ministry of Interior] etc... However, the British Embassy stopped doing this in June 2013 when the Intimidation Investigation Unit was established in Afghanistan and there was a “one stop process for all” put in place. (UK 13 Jan. 2016)

The UK's FCO guidance document for locally employed staff states that the process for a local employee making a claim about intimidation is as follows:

Local staff who have intimidation concerns should contact the Labour Support Unit (LSU) in Kabul on 0792 907 303. They will pass your case to the Intimidation Investigation Unit (IIU) who should call you back within 24 hours. They will discuss your case with you and make an initial assessment of the threat [that] you and/or your immediate family are facing. If our assessment is that the threat is immediate and life threatening, we will take steps to help you ensure your safety.

The IIU will then conduct a more detailed investigation so that the right support can be provided. This unit is set up specifically to address intimidation concerns and is staffed by professional investigators. It includes an interpreter in Dari and Pashtu. It has close links to the Danish authorities for those local staff who spent most of their employment with Danish Forces. For such staff, your case will be investigated by the Danish authorities.

When your case is referred to the IIU, they will interview you. This may be done in person in Kabul, or by telephone. You will be asked to provide evidence of the intimidation and its connection with your service with the UK government. This evidence could include:

  • written/mobile phone evidence of a threat; it is helpful if you can give the IIU the actual mobile phone on which any threatening call or text was received, and any threatening letters you have received as these are important evidence and you should not delete or destroy them
  • evidence of an injury and its cause
  • supporting evidence from a police investigation or medical treatment
  • contact details for any witnesses to the intimidation; the IIU may want to interview any witnesses
  • any other evidence you may have

The IIU may pass the information [that] you provide to the Afghan National Police and National Directorate of Security for further investigation of the incident and any background to the claims. The IIU will only pass on this information with your agreement.

If you have any immediate concerns about your safety, you should in the first instance contact the Afghan National Police or National Directorate of Security. (UK 19 Nov. 2015)

According to the official, the British Embassy in Kabul keeps a record of reports by local staff who have informed the embassy that they had received threats from the Taliban (ibid. 13 Jan. 2016). The official explained that the employee who reported the incident would have access to that record and may obtain a copy in the following manner:

We release such information, if we hold it through the use of Data Protection Act or Subject Access Requests.  These are usually done through a solicitor and with evidence that the person asking for the information is the same person who worked for the Embassy. This is in keeping with general freedom of information guidelines that [the] Foreign and Commonwealth Office follows. (ibid.)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

United Kingdom (UK). 13 January 2016. Afghanistan Security Policy Team. Correspondence from an official to the Research Directorate.

_____. 19 November 2015. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD). "Guidance - Supporting Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: United Kingdom – Embassy in Kabul; High Commission in Ottawa.

Internet sites, including: ecoi.net; Factiva; United Kingdom – Foreign Office.

Attachment

United Kingdom (UK). 19 November 2015. Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MOD). "Guidance - Supporting Locally Employed Staff in Afghanistan." [Accessed 13 Jan. 2016]