Morning Star, April 26, 2010

MI5 ‘knew about prisoner torture’

A confidential memo of a meeting between MI5 and the NDS director dated March 25 2007 shows the allegations of abuse were discussed

By Paddy McGuffin

Britain has long known that Afghanistan is accused of using torture but is still handing over prisoners, new evidence in a legal action against the British government claims.

Peace campaigner Maya Evans is bringing a judicial review against the Defence Secretary over allegations that British troops were complicit in the torture of Afghan prisoners by handing them over to the notorious Afghan Security Service (NDS).

And the court has now seen evidence that MI5 knew of allegations the NDS has mistreated detainees in Kandahar province in March 2007 - but it took no action as a result.

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.
Telegraph, Apr. 19, 2010

This was several months after British forces had started handing prisoners over to the NDS and one month before similar allegations emerged in the Canadian media.

A confidential memo of a meeting between MI5 and the NDS director dated March 25 2007 shows the allegations of abuse were discussed.

But it appears that no action was taken, and British prisoners continued to be transferred to the NDS Kandahar facility that year.

The court, which continues to sit this week, has heard numerous allegations of NDS torture made by former British prisoners involving electrocution, whipping, beating and stress positions.

These are conceded by the government to be of potential substance, yet it continues transferring prisoners to the NDS.

The court has also heard that the government has dropped its long-standing legal objections to the case and accepts that it should not be transferring prisoners where there is a real risk of torture.

This risk has been highlighted in numerous reports by human rights groups and the UN.

Ms Evans said: "Only now has the government clearly admitted that it cannot hand over prisoners where there is a risk of torture by the NDS. The evidence is overwhelming. This practice must stop."

Ms Evans is represented by Public Interest Lawyers, which is also bringing numerous cases against the government for its alleged abuse of Iraqi civilians.

Public Interest solicitor Daniel Carey said: "The government cannot continue to ignore the clear evidence of torture by this organisation.

"Its international human rights law obligations couldn't be clearer. They are risking prisoners' lives and the reputation and criminal responsibility of British forces."

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