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Former Afghan interpreter for British Army denied compensation despite sustaining injuries from Taliban attacks

A former Afghan interpreter for the British Army, now residing in Coventry, has been refused compensation from the government after being shot by the Taliban on two separate occasions.

Having served with the Army for eight years, Jamal Barak was informed that he did not qualify for financial compensation. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has already provided over £3.3 million to Afghan individuals injured during their service with the military, but Mr. Barak was deemed ineligible.

The MoD explained that claims are evaluated by medical and legal professionals. Mr. Barak began his role as an interpreter for the Army at age 17, serving between 2008 and 2015. He suffered gunshot wounds to the chest and back while working alongside the Scots Guards in Helmand Province.

Despite ongoing pain, difficulty walking, inability to work, and the need for daily pain relief, Mr. Barak was denied government compensation. He expressed deep disappointment over the decision, as he was told that only those with severe impairment or disability would be eligible.

Mr. Barak argued that the compensation should not be restricted to those who have lost limbs or are fully disabled. The MoD’s guidelines indicate that payments are not designed for individuals expected to recover or those with less severe long-term impairments.

Although the MoD could not discuss individual cases, a spokesperson stated that they remain dedicated to offering ex-gratia medical payments to courageous individuals who served alongside British soldiers, provided there is sufficient evidence. If a claimant’s condition deteriorates, the case may be re-evaluated.

Mr. Barak urged the government to modify the eligibility criteria and indicated that he might pursue legal action if his case is not reassessed.

The MOD has been involved in previous scandals related to compensation payments. Last year, Action on Armed Violence data revealed that between 2006-14, dozens of children in Afghanistan were killed due to British forces’ actions, with each child’s death compensated at an average of £1,656. The number of confirmed child victims in Afghanistan where the British military paid compensation was 64, but this could be as high as 135. This number was four times higher than previously thought, with prior documents from the UK’s MOD revealing only 16 confirmed child fatalities.

An analysis of compensation payments for child fatalities showed that between April 2007 and December 2012, there were 38 incidents involving 64 confirmed child fatalities, where the relatives of the children were paid compensation. If descriptions of the dead such as ‘son’, ‘daughter’ or ‘nephew’ were included, the number of children impacted could have been as high as 135 in some 47 incidents. In total, 164 people (adults and children) were killed in attacks involving confirmed or suspected children. It must be stressed there was no evidence of deliberate targeting of civilians or children by the British military.

The average age of a child killed during British military operations, where an age was given, was six years old. Crossfire and airstrikes were the two most common specified causes of death. The total pay-out for incidents involving confirmed child fatalities was £144,593, including other adults killed. These fatality figures only captured those Afghans who knew about and were capable of going through the arduous compensation process and had enough evidence for the claim to be accepted by personnel at the Area Claims Office.