June 22, 2011
Troubles with Detention Practices and Justice Systems Need to Be Addressed in Afghanistan Drawdown
Washington, D.C.— In tonight’s speech on troop drawdown in Afghanistan, President Obama is expected to outline a comprehensive strategy and timetable for U.S. withdraw from the country. Tomorrow, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, providing more details on the drawdown and its impact on diplomatic efforts in the region. Within this strategy, President Obama and Secretary Clinton must recognize ongoing detention issues and the importance of U.S. investment in the development of the Afghan justice system prior to removal of American forces. While improvements have been made to the hearing process that allow detainees to hear the charges against them and to make a statement in their defense, new procedures do not meet the minimum standards of due process required by law. Human Rights First urges the United States government to take a long-term view of these problems and commit to civilian assistance for Afghan judges, lawyers and legal institutions far into the future. “Even after the United States withdraws the bulk of its troops from Afghanistan, ongoing support for its fledgling justice system will be necessary, and critical to the country’s stable development,” said Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “Secretary Clinton should go into more detail about the transition to civilian control and U.S. efforts to institute Rule of Law during her testimony tomorrow before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.” In May, Human Rights First released a report, Detained and Denied in Afghanistan: How to Make U.S. Detention Comply with Law, which documents current Afghan detention practices and puts forth a series of recommendations designed to tackle detention reform objectives.