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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    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.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora