News / Asia

Afghan Prisoner Abuse Could Trigger Some Aid Suspension

An Afghan National Army soldier stands in front of the gate of the newly refurbished Pul-e-Charkhy prison during an opening ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2007 (file photo)
An Afghan National Army soldier stands in front of the gate of the newly refurbished Pul-e-Charkhy prison during an opening ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 2007 (file photo)
Gary Thomas

A new United Nations report says Afghan police and intelligence officers are systematically torturing some detainees in their custody.  The abuses detailed in the report were found to be so widespread that the U.S. and its allies have suspended turning over suspected Taliban detainees to Afghan government control in some areas. The U.S. may also have to suspend some security aid to units involved in the abuses.

In a detailed report drawn from interviews with over 300 detainees, the United Nations found torture to be widespread at detention facilities run by the Afghan National Directorate of Security, or NDS, and the Afghan National Police, the ANP.

The U.N. mission found that police and intelligence officers routinely beat suspects, subjected them to electric shock, wrenched out their toenails, and sexually abused them.  The report says the abuse became so pervasive that in July U.S. and NATO forces stopped handing over suspected Taliban members to Afghan-run detention facilities in several provinces.

The Afghan government denies the worst of the allegations, but acknowledges what it calls "deficiencies" in the detainee system.

The ANP and the NDS are being trained by U.S. and allied forces.  As Tom Malinowski, Washington director of Human Rights Watch, points out, the U.N. report puts the U.S. in an awkward position. “This report clearly implicates the NDS, the intelligence service in Afghanistan, and also some police units.  So the implication of that is that those units are going to have to clean up their act. And the U.S. embassy is going to have to work very hard with the Afghan government to ensure that that happens, if U.S. assistance is going to continue," he said.

As the U.N. report itself points out, torture and ill-treatment could spark invocation of the so-called “Leahy law.”  That law, named after its sponsor, Sen. Patrick Leahy, stipulates that the U.S. cut off funding, training, and weapons to any unit of a foreign country if they have committed gross human rights violations.

Malinowski says the Obama administration has no choice but to invoke the provisions of the law. “Well, they have to invoke it. It’s not an option. It’s not something that they will or will not do based on me calling on them to do it.  It’s something that they have to do under the law.  And I imagine that they will because the evidence here is so clear," he said.

Mike Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina, who has served as a legal advisor to Senator Leahy among others, says that does not mean the U.S. would cut off security assistance to Afghanistan, only to specific units. “If you take its language literally, it has to do with withdrawing support for a particular unit that is found to be committing violations.  So that might be a very specific thing, and the money could be moved elsewhere. So it’s hard to say how much of an impact it would have.  Much depends on the extensiveness of the violations," he said.

But there is a loophole.  

According to the language of the law, its provisions to cut off aid may not be invoked if the secretary of state determines that the concerned government is taking effective remedial measures.

Mike Gerhardt says the decision is not a cut-and-dried legal one. “Well, it would be both a political and a legal decision. Obviously they’d probably want to ensure that they’re doing something that’s consistent with the law.  And at the same time, they’ve got to take into account the political and other ramifications of their decisions," he said.

Tom Malinowski says the Afghan intelligence service as a whole could be sanctioned, but adds that it could escape punishment if its assistance comes from the CIA and other intelligence agencies. “I think the NDS would count as a unit under the Leahy law. What’s less clear to me is what assistance the NDS gets. And I think it may well not be - and this is maybe where things get a bit murky - it may not be assistance that passes through the State or Defense Department budget.  It may be something that passes through the intelligence budget," he said.

U.S. officials say the Embassy in Kabul is devising a monitoring system for Afghan-run detention centers, and a NATO statement says allied officials are working with the U.S. to establish new safeguards to prevent detainee abuse.

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid