Helen Foot secures resettlement for former female Afghan judge

Tuesday 18 July 2023

Helen Foot of the Garden Court Chambers Immigration Team was instructed by Oliver Oldman of Kingsley Napley and Lucy Blake of Jenner & Block.

The legal team worked on a pro bono basis.

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An Afghan female judge (“Y") and her adult son, have been granted permission to enter the UK. 

The pair arrived in June and were reunited with their British family members in the UK. This outcome follows nearly two years of pro bono work by the legal team since they started representing the family after the fall of Kabul in August 2021. 

Y was a female judge and women’s rights defender in Afghanistan. During her two-decade-long career, she held senior positions in the Afghan Criminal Court system, amongst others. She adjudicated cases involving the Taliban in crimes such as murder, kidnapping, violence against women, rape, terrorism offences and conspiring against the Afghan Government.

After the Taliban takeover, Y and her son fled Afghanistan and lived in hiding in Pakistan in constant fear of Taliban retaliation or deportation to Afghanistan. In June 2023, the Home Office admitted the judge and her son to the UK on a resettlement scheme. The pair have been granted indefinite leave to enter and will be eligible to apply for British citizenship after five years. 

Y (now living with her son in the UK) expressed her sincere gratitude to the legal team and to the many others who helped her and her son in ending what has been the two most gruelling years of their lives. Y’s British family members, who worked closely with the legal team over the past two years, are also deeply grateful for all the support they received and are overjoyed to have Y and her son in safety with them every day.

Lucy Blake, Special Counsel at Jenner & Block in London said:

“We are delighted that Y and her son are – finally – out of danger. After two years of legal work and campaigning, it was a great relief to see them arrive in the UK and reunite with their family. It was also our pleasure to work in partnership with the phenomenal immigration and international protection team at Kingsley Napley and the exceptional Helen Foot of Garden Court Chambers. As the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan continues, there is so much work to be done by governments around the world in creating legal routes to safety for the many others who remain at risk.”

Oliver Oldman, Senior Associate in Kingsley Napley’s Immigration Team and International Protection Group said:

“We are so relieved for Y and her son. While long overdue, this is absolutely the right result. Y, her son and their family in the UK have been living with the constant threat of deportation to Afghanistan hanging over their heads for almost two years, which has really taken its toll. We are thrilled to see them reunited at last but remain concerned about the other vulnerable Afghans, including judges, who remain in hiding.”

Y said:

"We are overjoyed to finally be with our family in the UK. We still cannot believe that the dream we didn't even dare to dream for so long has finally become a reality. The last almost two years have been the most gruelling time we've ever been through. Since August 2021, when the Taliban took over Kabul and we tried, unsuccessfully, to escape, we had to fear and fight for our life every day. We eventually managed to flee to Pakistan but had to remain in hiding as police regularly captured Afghan refugees and either imprisoned or deported them back to Afghanistan. Our initial hope to be granted a visa to come to the UK over time turned into hopelessness and despair. In Pakistan, the ongoing fear for our life and the restrictions we faced, as a result, placed an enormous burden on us mentally and emotionally. We only left the small apartment our family in the UK rented for us to go buy groceries or see the doctors. Two days before we flew to the UK, our apartment block got raided by police to arrest Afghan refugees - luckily we were out at the doctor's at the time. Now that we are finally safe in the UK, the huge weight on our shoulders and minds has finally been lifted.

We so much enjoy being able to walk around safely and freely now, sitting in our family's garden and feeling just peace around us, and sleeping quietly and comfortably, knowing next day we will wake up in our safe new home. We look forward to fully settling to a new life in the UK. I have started learning some English. My son, a law graduate from Kabul University, is hoping to go back to university to gain a UK qualification to become a lawyer. We are so grateful to Jenner & Block, Kingsley Napley, Helen Foot, and several others who all played their part in helping save our life and bringing us here. We feel deeply touched by everyone's generosity and endurance in working on our case. We cannot express in words how thankful we are to everyone for the care they have shown to me and my family. May God bless them all."

This case has been featured in the press, including The Independent, The Guardian, The Times and the Law Society Gazette.

The above content has been reproduced from a Kingsley Napley press release, read it here.

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