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New Report:Human Rights First: Detained and Denied in Afghanistan

In Uncategorized on May 12, 2011 at 12:02 am

New report released yesterday by Human Rights First questioning the legality of current US detention-review policies in Afghanistan under International Law.  According to the press release, here are the key findings:

  • The current U.S. detention policy in Afghanistan does not provide detainees the minimum level of due process required by international law, including the right to see and effectively challenge the evidence, and to have their rights determined by an independent authority, empowered to order release.
  • While the U.S. military has a legitimate need to protect intelligence sources and methods, the heavy reliance on secret evidence to determine whether a detainee meets the criteria for continued detention is unacceptable and does not meet the minimum requirements of due process – a practice that is counterproductive to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan because it encourages hostility toward U.S. forces.
  • The DRB’s lack of authority to order a detainee’s release represents a serious shortfall in due process, one that leaves the process open to arbitrary delays and the possibility of political interference. This undermines both the legitimacy of the board’s proceedings and the ability of detainees to meaningfully challenge their detention.
  • There is a lack of compensation – or even an official apology – for wrongful detention, theft or damage to property.
  • The responsible transition of detention authority to Afghan control is critical to the future stability of Afghanistan, as well as to U.S. national security interests in the region. To help the Afghan government meet basic standards of due process will require a lasting commitment on the part of the U.S. government, working in coordination with other donor nations.
The LA Times also published a piece today covering the detainee review process in Afghanistan.
I also recommend reading a  report (in conjunction with the HRF report) summarizing  an informal expert meeting sponsored by the ICRC and Chatham House in 2008 called: Procedural Safeguards for Security Detention in Non-International Armed Conflict.

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