For Immediate Release: October 11, 2011
New York City – Human Rights First notes that the United Nations report released today documenting the systematic use of torture by the Afghan intelligence service and the Afghan National Police raises important questions for the U.S. government and its role in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. government should reveal how and whether any U.S. funding is being provided to agencies of the Afghan government implicated in the charges of torture,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “Under laws drafted by Senator Patrick Leahy and passed by Congress, the United States is not permitted to provide assistance and training to foreign security forces if there is credible evidence that they have committed gross human rights abuses. To comply with the law, the United States must actively monitor the human rights behavior of the Afghan government agencies that benefit from U.S. assistance.”
Eviatar notes that although the U.S. says it will not transfer detainees to governments or agencies known to engage in torture, the U.S. government should provide more information about what standards it uses and what protections it provides to ensure that prisoners handed to Afghan authorities by the United States are not subjected to mistreatment. The United States is a signatory of the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which forbids the transfer of any person to “another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”
Eviatar adds, “The United States has not made clear whether it is following and enforcing this requirement when it comes to transfers of detainees within Afghanistan. It is time for the United States to state clearly that it will follow both the letter and spirit of the Convention Against Torture, and to state exactly what steps it is taking to ensure that those detained by U.S. forces and transferred to Afghan authorities are not subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment.”
As the U.S. military begins to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, Human Rights First maintains that respecting these basic human rights principles and international laws is critical to ensuring enduring respect for the United States and its decade-long efforts in Afghanistan, as well as to helping the Afghans develop a stable, secure and legitimate government that will not threaten U.S. national security in the future.