NATO has no evidence of systematic Afghan torture

NATO said on Wednesday it had no evidence of systematic torture of detainees it had handed to Afghan authorities after a rights group accused the force of breaking its own rules by not ensuring prisoners’ safety.Amnesty International said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was in effect complicit in the mistreatment of detainees it handed to Afghan authorities, particularly the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and should suspend prisoner transfers until safeguards were in place.

“NATO-ISAF has no evidence of systematic mistreatment and torture of detainees handed over to Afghan authorities by ISAF,” Nicholas Lunt, the civilian spokesman for the force, told a news conference.

But Afghan President Hamid Karzai last week ordered authorities to stop torturing suspects in a tacit admission that the practice had been carried out.

Lunt said monitoring of detainees was the responsibility of individual nations, not ISAF, and was governed by memoranda of understanding between the individual states and Afghanistan.

The Amnesty report said only five of the 37 states contributing troops to ISAF had signed memoranda of understanding with the Afghan government on prisoner transfer and monitoring. Four more countries were seeking agreements.

The report detailed allegations 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 Claudio Cordone, Amnesty’s senior research director.

“These agreements are supposed to ensure that detainees are treated in accordance with international standards but have proved to be inadequate,” he said.

Amnesty recommended that Afghan authorities reform their detention procedures in order to stop torture and abuse.

“The best thing that ISAF and ISAF nations can do is provide support to the government of Afghanistan to speed up those enhancements and improvements to its own detention system and processes,” Lunt said.

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