NATO forces in Afghanistan may be breaching their own operating rules by handing detainees to Afghan security services despite reports that they torture their prisoners, rights group Amnesty International said on Tuesday.It said the fact that the torture and mistreatment reports were now so widely circulated made the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) members in effect complicit when they handed over detainees.
The allegations of torture particularly involved the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Amnesty said in a report “Afghanistan: Detainees transferred to torture: ISAF complicity?”.
“ISAF states are under an international obligation not to hand over detainees to Afghan authorities where they will be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment,” said Claudio Cordone, AI’s senior research director.
“Such transfers should be suspended until effective safeguards are in place,” he added.
The 40-page report said ISAF troops from Belgium, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands and Norway were particularly at risk because of the detainee handover implications.
It specifically did not include the United States’ Operation Enduring Freedom detention system.
It said five ISAF states had signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the Afghan government on prisoner transfer and monitoring, with four more seeking to agree one.
Four of the remaining 14 ISAF states with more than 100 personnel in Afghanistan told AI they did not have an MOU, and the remaining 10 either refused to comment or could not verify the existence of an MOU, the rights group said.
The report detailed allegation of Afghan torture of several detainees handed over by Canadian troops to the NDS.
“The obligation of ISAF states to protect individuals from such treatment cannot be discharged by relying upon bilateral agreements,” said Cordone.
“These agreements are supposed to ensure that detainees are treated in accordance with international standards but have proved to be inadequate,” he added.
The report called for the immediate suspension of detainee handovers until proper safeguards were in place, a complete reform of the Afghan detention system and full monitoring of detainees after resumption of handover.