Reports Confirm that Afghan, Iraqi Detention Facilities Fail to Meet International Standards
Washington, D.C. – The State Department’s country reports released today regarding Iraq and Afghanistan paint a disturbing portrait of those nations’ detention systems and the ongoing use of systematic torture and abuse of detainees in both countries’ prisons. Human Rights First commends the State Department’s willingness to honestly acknowledge the ongoing problems in both countries where the U.S. has had significant involvement, including regarding the detention of detainees. “These reports underscore that the United States government should continue to play a significant role, particularly in Afghanistan, in ensuring that the detainees now being transferred from U.S. to Afghan authorities are not abused, tortured or otherwise treated inhumanely,” noted Human Rights First’s Daphne Eviatar. “The United States also must ensure, under international human rights law, that the detainees it transfers to Afghan authority receive at least the minimum level of due process that international law requires, including the right to meaningfully challenge the basis for their detention before a neutral arbiter, the right to the assistance of counsel, and the right to confront the evidence against them.” As Human Rights First documented in its 2011 report Detained and Denied in Afghanistan: How to Make U.S. Detention Comply with the Law, the United States, in its own detention in Afghanistan, in the past has failed to meet that standard. Other reports have demonstrated that the United States has in some instances transferred prisoners to Afghan authorities even when it knew that they faced a serious risk of abuse. The State Department’s country report released today confirms that Afghanistan’s own detention and justice systems still do not meet minimum international law standards. International law demands that the United States ensure it only transfers detainees to a regime where they will be treated fairly and humanely. A monitoring system developed by the State Department to monitor the treatment of detainees in Afghan prisons still has not been officially adopted or implemented. “In light of the grave abuses continuing in Iraq and Afghanistan, as documented in today’s reports from the U.S. State Department, and the fact that previous efforts to remedy these problems in Iraq have apparently been unsuccessful, we hope that the United States will redouble its efforts to protect all of the detainees it transfers to Afghan authority. Among other things, it should press for adoption and implementation of a thorough and independent system for monitoring the treatment of detainees, and continue to work with the Afghan government to improve the conditions of its prison and justice systems,” Eviatar concluded.