New York City – This week, The Washington Post reported that Haji Gulalai, accused of torturing prisoners in Afghanistan following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001, has been granted asylum in the United States and is now living on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Human Rights First calls on the U.S. government to arrest and try Gulalai for torture and to investigate how and why a suspected torturer was allowed into the United States.
“As the United States winds down its war in Afghanistan, this case sends the wrong message to the world – that a torturer can live in the United States with impunity.” said Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona. “The fact that Gulalai has been welcomed into the United States makes a mockery of President Obama’s unequivocal condemnation of torture.”
Gulalai was head of Afghan intelligence operations in Kandahar after U.S. troops invaded the country, and was later head of the spy service’s detention and interrogation branch. According to The Washington Post, “Hundreds in his organization’s custody were beaten, shocked with electrical currents or subjected to other abuses documented in human rights reports. Some allegedly disappeared,” reports the Post. An unnamed western diplomat referred to Gulalai as “the torturer-in-chief.”
“The United States is obligated under the Convention against Torture to either try torturers or to extradite them elsewhere for trial,” said Human Rights First’s Gabor Rona. “Torture violates the most fundamental standards of human decency and must be punished wherever the torturer is found.”