Rights & Freedoms

The Other Guantanamo 4: The Final Handover of Bagram in Sight?

The transfer of detainees held at Bagram airbase from US to Afghan hands is once again in full swing. Transfers had begun after the US and Afghan governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on transferring Bagram almost a year ago, but they were suspended by the US in late summer 2012, due to reluctance […]

Torture, Illegal Armed Groups: Signs of Possible Afghan Government Action?

Many were surprised by the eventual response of the Afghan government to the detailed allegations made by UNAMA in January concerning torture carried out by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) and the Afghan National Police (ANP). The government’s initial denials that any problem existed were predictable enough, but were followed by President Karzai ordering […]

Ambiguous about Torture: Zero Dark Thirty, the Movie

Oscar-winning film director, Kathryn Bigelow’s new film Zero Dark Thirty tells the story of the search for and eventual killing of Osama Bin Laden. The film has proved controversial – praised by some for its cool realism, it has also been castigated for inaccuracies. Above all, though, it has been accused of justifying torture. AAN […]

UN Torture Report: still no accountability for torture

UNAMA’s new report on the torture of ‘conflict related detainees’ makes bleak reading and not only because of the scale and weight of evidence against Afghan intelligence and the police. UNAMA reported that more than half of those interviewed had experienced torture or ill-treatment. They included children as young as 14. The UN also says […]

Where Many Streets Have No Name: One for the Freedom of Speech?

Afghan journalists want to rename a street in central Kabul ‘Freedom of Speech Street’ to honour the many colleagues who have sacrificed their lives in this cause over the past ten years. Their initiative has met some resistance – not because of the content but because the street already bears the name of an independence […]

The Refugees and the Christmas Tree: Afghan Asylum Seekers Protest in Berlin

German asylum law has been under fire from human rights campaigners for years, for what its critics call the unfair limitations imposed on refugees. Only in July this year, the German Constitutional Court threw out the German government’s current provisions for social services for refugees as ‘evidently insufficient’ and unconstitutional because they are under the […]

Transfers and Torture: The British Army halts transfers of detainees to the NDS

President Karzai has warned British forces that they must hand detainees over and may not hold any detainees themselves. The warning follows a British government decision to stop all transfers after a former UK detainee, Sardar Mohammed, challenged their legality, given the risk of torture by the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS). Sardar Mohammed […]

After the Executions: What approach to the death penalty?

After the execution of 14 prisoners last week, Afghan civil society has rightly ridiculed the Taleban who demanded an end to executions. But it has not taken up the question of the death penalty in Afghanistan in general. Capital punishment is legal under both the Afghan penal code and sharia. Even so, the well-known problems […]

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