Rights Group Warns Against Transfer of Afghan Jails

Posted January 10th, 2012 at 12:15 pm (UTC-5)
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Human Rights Watch is warning that the control of Afghan-run prisons should not be transferred from Afghanistan's Justice Ministry to the Interior Ministry, citing the heightened risk of torture and mistreatment of detainees.

The New York-based rights group is urging Afghan President Hamid Karzai to revoke the decree that went into effect on Tuesday.

Human Rights Watch says placing all prisoners under Interior Ministry control increases the likelihood that the Afghan police, who have been implicated in torture, would be in charge of suspects during interrogation.

The group's Asia director, Brad Adams, says greater police involvement in jails is likely to “lead to more torture, not less.”

The rights group says President Karzai first proposed the transfer of authority following the April 2011 escape of more than 470 prisoners from a jail in the southern province of Kandahar.

Last October, the United Nations said the Afghan intelligence agency and police force had been “systematically” torturing detainees in Afghan jails, but that the mistreatment was not part of an institutional or government policy.

NATO says it has stopped transferring detainees to 16 Afghan facilities where the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan found evidence of torture and mistreatment by police and security officials.