NATO dismisses Amnesty concern over Afghan prisoners


Brussels : NATO Tuesday rejected criticism by Amnesty International about the way it deals with prisoners in Afghanistan.

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The human rights watchdog had said detainees transferred to Afghan authorities by the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) faced the risk of torture and other ill treatment.

Responding to the concerns voiced by Amnesty, NATO spokesman James Appathurai here said, “We have no evidence of mistreatment or torture.”

The procedures for dealing with prisoners “were developed with the International Red Cross,” and conform to international standards, he said. The Red Cross was also monitoring the prisoner transfers.

The Amnesty report spoke of “a pattern of human rights violations perpetrated with impunity” by Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the NDS, and voiced concern that NATO states were turning a blind eye.

However, the NATO spokesman said ISAF procedures stipulated that prisoners should either be released or handed over to Afghan authorities within 96 hours.

“Afghanistan is a sovereign country. We see no reason to run a parallel detention structure,” Appathurai said, adding that Kabul has the legal responsibility for Afghan prisoners.

Under international law, prisoners should not be transferred if there is a reason to suspect abuse or torture.

Amnesty called for a moratorium on the handing over of prisoners. It said this should only end when the treatment of detainees in Afghanistan meets international standards.

The spokesman said NATO was against a moratorium, but would like to see improvements in Afghanistan’s judicial system and its prisons.