The US State Department is sending a human rights envoy to the war-torn country on Wednesday, in an attempt to press officials to improve conditions for their citizens.

The Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, Democracy and Labour, Lorne Craner, is to begin his trip in Afghanistan - where he will stay until Friday consulting with Afghan authorities, the department said.
 

State Department Spokeswoman Jo-Anne Prokopowicz said the envoy would raise issues including the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities.

"He will emphasis e the United States' hope that the new constitution will reflect both the will and aspirations of the Afghan people and uphold human rights standards in accordance with Afghanistan's international commitments," she added.

US prison at Bagram

The irony of the visit has not been lost on human rights organisations who are already investigating the deaths of two men who died in Afghanistan while in US custody.

A post mortem examination on the bodies of

Two prisoners died in custody,
remote from international concern

two al-Qaeda suspects who died in custody last year, revealed signs of torture and abuse. Torture techniques employed by the US in Afghanistan have been condemned by international human rights groups such as Amnesty International.

US military spokesman at the Bagram base, Roger King, confirmed to journalists the camp does strip prisoners naked and “force people to stand for an extended period of time.”

“Disruption of sleep has been reported as an effective way of reducing people's inhibition about talking or their resistance to questioning," he added.
     
Saudi Arabia

From Afghanistan, Craner will travel to Saudi Arabia on 19 July, speaking to a variety of people and underscoring US interests in seeing broad political, economic and social reform in the kingdom, Prokopowicz said.
  
"He plans to solicit the viewpoints of government officials, scholars, journalists and other leaders to communicate our interest in seeing an expansion of civil and political rights in Saudi Arabia," she said.


"Disruption of sleep has been reported as an effective way of reducing people's inhibition about talking"

Roger King
Military spokesman, Baghram
 

Saudi Arabian officials may also choose to raise the issue of Saudi nationals held under internationally condemned conditions at Guantanamo Bay.

Detainees are held in cages smaller than two square metres, although no trial, sentence or official charges have been made against them.  
  
Visit to Iraq

Craner's exact schedule in Saudi Arabia had not yet been determined, according to the department spokeswoman, but he plans to travel to Iraq on 22 July. 
  
He will spend two days in talks that will focus on efforts to probe human rights abuses that occured under toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and prosecute the offenders, Prokopowicz said.