Yet Again U.S. Special Forces Escape Criminal Punishment for Torture and Death of Afghan Detainees

Instead of bringing criminal charges, military commanders chose to reprimand two Special Forces soldiers accused of involvement in the torture and death of Afghan detainees at an army firebase in Afghanistan in 2003, despite the findings of the military’s own criminal investigators that the soldiers could be charged with voluntary manslaughter and aggravated assault. Read article –,1,7235716.story

The reprimands related to two deaths, including that of Jamal Naseer, an 18-year-old Afghan soldier who died in the custody of U.S. Special Forces soldiers in March 2003. Other Afghan soldiers detained with Naseer reported treatment including beatings with fists and cables, exposure to extreme winter temperatures and electrocution. Human Rights First documented Naseer’s death and the subsequent flawed investigation in its report, Command’s Responsibility, which documents close to 100 deaths in U.S. military custody in Iraq and Afghanistan and subsequent failures of investigation and accountability.

“It is disappointing that the Special Forces Command chose the military’s version of an administrative slap on the wrist rather than a criminal trial, especially given the military’s own finding that soldiers likely bore criminal responsibility for the detainee deaths,” said Hina Shamsi, Deputy Director of HRF’s Law and Security Program and author of Command’s Responsibility. “Like the CIA, the Special Forces’s record on holding those suspected of detainee abuse, including deaths, to account is especially weak. The military commanders’ dismissal of the most serious charges in a case like Mr. Naseer’s is even more disturbing because it appears to follow a pattern of failed accountability that we have documented. The pattern needs to stop.”

An initial investigation into Naseer’s case did not begin until nine months after his death and was closed due to claimed lack of leads. Only after The Los Angeles Times wrote a feature-length article about Naseer’s death, alleging that Naseer had been tortured, and that the Afghan government had conducted a detailed investigation into the death, did army investigators re-open the case. To read more about deaths and abuses in U.S. custody and the failure to sufficiently investigate and punish implicated personnel, read Command’s Responsibility at



Published on January 29, 2007


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