The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has carried out the first visits to three members of the Afghan security forces detained by the Taliban in Badghis province, in northwestern Afghanistan. The Swiss humanitarian organization says two visits to the Afghan prisoners took place at the end of last month.
The International Committee of the Red Cross says this is the first time since the beginning of the conflict in Afghanistan the ICRC has visited people detained by the Taliban.
ICRC Spokeswoman Carla Haddad Mardini says the access to the three Afghan prisoners under Taliban custody is the result of years of work.
"So, it is a major breakthrough because it will allow the ICRC to assess the conditions of detention and treatment and be able to make recommendations to the detaining party, in this case the Taliban," she said.
"Our objective behind this is to be able to repeat such a visit, but also to conduct such visits in other regions in Afghanistan and the idea is to be able to repeat visits and conduct visits elsewhere, to visit detainees who are held by other armed opposition groups," she added.
The ICRC regularly visits people detained during armed conflict to assess their conditions of detention and treatment. As in all other cases, the visits are private and the information received is strictly confidential.
So, Haddad Mardini says she cannot publicly comment on the conditions under which the Afghan prisoners are being held by the Taliban.
"But, what I can say is we have assessed the conditions of detention and we made an intervention with the detaining authorities," she said. "Here, in this case, it is the detaining party, which is the Taliban. So we did assess the conditions of detention and treatment and made recommendations when we felt necessary."
Haddad Mardini says it is important to be able to repeat visits. Otherwise, it is difficult to assess the conditions of detention and treatment over a period of time.
She says she does not know how many prisoners the Taliban hold. But, she say the ICRC currently is visiting 136 places of detention in Afghanistan and has registered more than 16,000 prisoners since the U.S. invasion in 2001.