For Immediate Release: November 14, 2011
Washington, DC – As Congress considers future U.S. foreign aid funding, Human Rights First urges lawmakers to continue civilian support for the development of reliable justice and humane prison systems in Afghanistan.
The United States has already invested nearly $500 billion in the war in Afghanistan.
“As the U.S. military withdraws its troops, it is critical for the United States to provide the far less costly training and funding necessary to help the Afghans develop a fair and reliable criminal justice system,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “Such support will be critical to maintaining any progress that the United States has made in Afghanistan. It is also critical to the stability of the Afghan government and ultimately to U.S. national security.”
Human Rights First notes that the United States has said that it will transfer thousands of Afghan prisoners now held in U.S. military custody to the Afghan government for detention and trial. However, Afghan security services are known to systematically torture detainees during interrogations, as documented most recently in a United Nations report released last month.
“In order to meet its U.N. Convention Against Torture obligations, as well as to maintain its credibility in the region, the United States must provide aid to ensure that Afghan interrogators are trained to use effective and humane interrogations techniques,” said Eviatar. “It must also develop and maintain a credible means of monitoring Afghan prisons to ensure that detainees there are not subjected to abuse and torture.”
Earlier this year, Human Rights First issued a report, Detained and Denied in Afghanistan: How to Make U.S. Detention Comply with the Law, based on first-hand observation of hearings provided by the U.S. military to detainees held at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, and interviews with former detainees. Human Rights First concluded that the U.S. government is not providing detainees due process in Afghanistan.
“The U.S. military has repeatedly said that its detention of Afghans is temporary and that it wants to quickly transition detention operations to the Afghan government. It therefore has the responsibility to provide the assistance necessary to ensure that those detention operations are humane and in compliance with international law,” concluded Eviatar.