Court: Afghan interpreter wronged by Estonian Police and Border Guard Board

Tartu County Court building
Tartu County Court building Source:

The Tartu Administrative Court has decided that Basheer Ahmad Omarzai, an interpreter for Estonian mission troops in Afghanistan, was expelled from Estonia without proper grounds and his application for a residence permit should be reconsidered, Postimees reported.

In the judgment passed last week, the administrative court finds that in refusing Basheer Ahmad Omarzai, or Omar, as he is better known in Estonia, a fixed-term residence permit and issuing to him a precept to leave Estonia the authorities failed to take his interests into account to the necessary degree and that in checking the income that Omar had the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board failed to sufficiently take into account the reasons cited by him.

Therefore, the non-issuance of a residence permit and the expulsion of Omar from Estonia must be annulled and the matter handled anew, the court said.

Omar, who first met with Estonians in Helmand province of Afghanistan in 2011 and was interpreter for the Estonian infantry company in Helmand in 2011-2013, considers Estonia his second home, Postimees said.

When the Estonian contingent was withdrawn from Afghanistan with British units in 2013, many local interpreters left with British troops as their lives were seen to be in danger. Estonia has no such tradition and this caused confusion in officials here, Postimees said.

It took Omar several years to convince officials in Estonia, and it was not until 2016 that he was allowed to come to Estonia to study. In 2019, Omar obtained a bachelor's degree in international relations from Euroülikool university and continued his studies at Tallinn University in autumn of the same year. At the beginning of 2020, before the exam session, Omar decided to briefly visit Afghanistan to get married and to then bring his wife to Estonia. However, this took more time than expected, and since Omar had not filed an application for an extension of the exam session on time, he was unenrolled from the university.

Once Omar had returned to Estonia, alone, the Police and Border Guard Board initiated the cancellation of his visa on the grounds that he was no longer a student.

He managed to extend his stay in Estonia with the help of a court until the end of the summer of 2020 and to then enroll on a master's program at the University of Tartu. Omar then filed a new application for a visa. However, where other foreign students were issued residence permits that allow them to also work during their studies, Omar was issued a new student visa. After that, the Police and Border Guard Board found that Omar did not have enough money in his bank account to cover the costs of his stay and the terms of his visa do not permit him to work here. 

The visa was canceled and Omar was issued an order to leave Estonia. Even though the Tartu-based court issued an interim injunction, Omar found said that he had has enough. It had been revealed in the meantime that he meets the conditions of a program for the resettlement of interpreters who have worked for the government of Britain and he had already received an invitation to an interview in Britain. 

Omar told Postimees that he does not have much trust in the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board and since he is no longer a student of the University of Tartu, he cannot get an Estonian visa either.

"I do not believe that they will ever change their decision. I am currently waiting for a reply from Britain and all communication with them to date has been very promising," Omar told Postimees.

"I have many good Estonian friends and I consider Estonia my second home, but the Police and Border Guard Board will not let me in," he said.

The Police and Border Guard Board and the Ministry of the Interior would not comment on the subject on the grounds that the court's decision has not stepped into force. 


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Editor: Helen Wright

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