Iraqi prisoner abuse raises Afghan fears

Afghanistan's main human rights body is seeking access to prisoners in US custody in the country, after graphic revelations of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by US occupation troops.

    Abuse of Afghan detainees has been reported by rights groups

    "The release of pictures of Iraqi prisoners has raised concerns among Afghans, fearing the same thing could happen to Afghan prisoners," Ahmad Zia Langari of the independent Human Rights Commission said.

    The commission has written to the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Barno, requesting access to all US military holding facilities, including the detention centre at their Bagram airbase headquarters.

    "People from around the country have expressed their concerns over the prisoner abuses. Fears were raised after people saw TV reports about prisoners in Iraq," Langari said.

    US military officials last Wednesday said prisoners in Afghanistan were treated according to international rules.

    "I can say that the Bagram facility does operate strictly in accordance with the internationally accepted rules of treatment of people under confinement," spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager told reporters in Kabul.

    Death in custody

    Two Afghans died in US custody at the Bagram detention centre, 50km north of Kabul, in December 2002.

    They had been detained for suspected links to anti-government forces.

    "Detainees have been left naked, kept awake for long periods of time, shackled painfully, forced to remain in painful positions for hours, humiliated, threatened, kept in extremely hot or cold conditions and punished for talking"

    Human Rights Watch report

    A death certificate for one of the men listed beating as the cause. The results of a military investigation have never been announced.


    "The investigation is ongoing," another US spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Dewerth Michele said last week.

    In March 2004, Human Rights Watch issued a 59-page report covering nearly two years of US military operations in Afghanistan and accusing the army of abusing Afghan prisoners.

    The report stated detainees at Bagram air base north of Kabul had been left naked, kept awake for long periods of time, shackled painfully, forced to remain in painful positions for hours, humiliated, threatened, kept in extremely hot or cold conditions and punished for talking.

    A 15,500-strong international coalition, dominated by 13,500 US troops, is hunting Taliban and al-Qaida members and as part of their operations holds people at its main headquarters of Bagram Air Base and several other around the country.

    SOURCE: AFP


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