Telegraph, April 19, 2010
Britain ‘hands over prisoners in Afghanistan to face torture’
British troops are handing over Taliban suspects to the Afghan security service to face "horrible abuse" and torture, the High Court has been told.
By Duncan Gardham
Government denials of such abuse are the result of a "head in the sand" attitude, partly borne out of a close intelligence relationship with the Afghans, the judges were told.
They are the latest allegations of British complicity in torture following investigations into MI5 and MI6.
“If the (Canadian) interrogator thought a detainee was lying, the military sent him to NDS (the National Directorate of Security) for more questions, Afghan style,” Malgarai told the committee Wednesday. “Translation: Abuse and torture.” Ottawa officials are peddling “a lie” when they say we never turned people over if there was a risk they’d be abused, he said.
And he says “everybody” in the military knew the NDS tortured people.
Toronto Star, Apr. 16, 2010
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables.
They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.
They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.
The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.
But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach "of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil".
In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is "endemic" in the NDS "even at a very high level", which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.
The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.
Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a "manifestly unsafe" memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.
But Britain adopted a "head in the sand" because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.
Allegations were first raised in a report by Amnesty International in November 2007 and a judicial review case is being brought by Maya Evans, a prominent peace activist who was arrested for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq during a protest at the Cenotaph in London.
She is backed by Public Interest Lawyers, who have brought a number of cases relating to the treatment of detainees in Iraq, notably that of Baha Mousa, who died in British custody.
Officers from the Royal Military Police have visited Pol-e-Charki jail in Kabul where one prisoner claimed he was repeatedly punched and hit over the head, another said he was subjected to stress positions and sleep deprivation, and two others said they suffered electric shocks and were beaten with a rubber cable.
Further concerns were raised over prisoners at an NDS facility in Sangin, in Helmand Province after British soldiers saw the condition of prisoners when they were transferred to another prison.
In late 2008 and early 2009, military and Foreign Office officials were denied access to Afghan detention centres and British forces were told not to transfer any more captured Afghans to the NDS.
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