NATO resumes transfer of Taliban detainees to Afghan government

February 15, 2012

NATO has resumed handing over Taliban detainees to the custody of Afghanistan’s government, following a break of nearly four months after the coalition halted the practice on the grounds that prisoners faced torture by Afghan interrogators, alliance officials said Wednesday.

The transfers began again in January after three rounds of inspections by NATO officials at 12 of the 16 facilities where, according to a U.N. report released publicly in October, some detainees were subjected to “systematic” torture.

The Afghan government has replaced the directors of several of the facilities in recent months as part of an effort to prevent the abuses, Maj. Carl Dick, a U.S. military officer involved in inspections and recertifications, told reporters.

“We see no gross violations of human rights,” he said of the 12 facilities that have been listed as “certified.” The coalition is monitoring those detentions, along with the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, to make sure abuses do not occur again, he said.

If they do recur, the coalition will be forced to again halt the transfer of detainees, he said.

The four facilities where transfers have yet to resume include a prison called 124 that is run by the Afghan National Directorate of Security and has gained a particularly notorious reputation. The U.N. report said the detainees there were subjected to torture by Afghan interrogators seeking intelligence regarding the war against the Taliban.

The detainees are suspected insurgents arrested during operations by international forces.

The U.N. report portrayed prisoner abuse by Afghan authorities on a scale far wider than previously known, including the use of beatings and electric shock to obtain confessions. The findings have complicated American efforts to hand increasing responsibility to Afghan forces as U.S. troops begin a steady drawdown from Afghanistan.

Many released detainees formerly held by the Afghan government or international forces have complained of being mistreated or tortured.

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