Afghanistan: NATO troops of EU countries risk complicity in torture

Afghanistan: NATO troops of EU countries risk complicity in torture

In a new report released today (available at the bottom of this page), Amnesty International warns against NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan exposing detainees to torture and other ill-treatment by Afghan authorities.

Afghanistan: Detainees transferred to torture: ISAF complicity ” documents how ISAF forces – notably those from EU Member States Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands – have transferred detainees to Afghanistan’s intelligence service despite consistent reports of torture by the National Directorate of Security (NDS). 

As recently as September 2007 the UN reiterated its concerns about the NDS, known to use methods such as whipping, beatings, exposure to extreme cold and food deprivation. 

“Since it is common knowledge that this particular intelligence service uses interrogation practices that amount to torture, EU Member States should work with the Afghan government to stamp out the use of torture by the NDS rather than trying to discharge their responsibility through bilateral agreements” said Dick Oosting, Amnesty International’s EU Office director. 

The cases highlighted in the report include:  

  • The Belgian government losing track of transferred detainees;
  • Difficulties encountered by the British and Dutch forces in ensuring independent monitoring of detainees in Afghan custody.

The report examines Memorandums of Understanding and other bilateral agreements between the Afghan government and ISAF forces including those from Denmark, the Netherlands, and the UK. 

“These agreements are supposed to ensure that detainees are treated in accordance with international standards but have proved to be inadequate” said Claudio Cordone, Amnesty International’s  Senior Director for Research. 

Amnesty International urges the EU Council to:  

  • Develop a code of conduct regarding detainee transfers for member states operating in Afghanistan,
  • Explore how EUPOL can work to improve the training of Afghan detention officials in the same way they are currently working with police and judiciary.

Note to Editors:  

The author of this report, Amnesty International’s Afghanistan researcher, will be in Brussels for high level meetings next week. He will be available for interviews on Thursday 15 and Friday 16th November. If you would like to schedule an interview please contact Joana Gomes-Cardoso on (02)548 2773

For further comment/background and interviews:

     Amnesty International EU Office (Brussels):
     Tel: 32-2-5021499
     Fax: 32-2-5025686
     Email: Download PDF attachement