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May 12, 2004

Afghan Prison Abuse

Alleged abuses in Afghanistan prompt changes in prison regime
By STEPHEN GRAHAM | Associated Press Writer
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Alleged abuse of prisoners — including three deaths — at U.S. jails in Afghanistan has prompted “very significant changes” in how the military treats detainees, including quicker transfers from jails at outlying bases, a U.S. general said Tuesday.

But Lt. Gen. David Barno rejected demands by an Afghan human rights group for access to the prisoners to make sure they are not suffering the same abuses that have come to light in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters, Barno said the military had looked into “challenges and problems” at holding facilities in Afghanistan. He didn’t say what the allegations were, or if any of them had proved true.
...

Sima Samar, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, said detainees’ relatives were outraged by the images of abused prisoners in Iraq.
Samar said she sent a letter to Barno and President Hamid Karzai asking for access to the prisoners. “We don’t want the same things happening to Afghans.”
But Barno said the military had no plans to let anyone other than the International Committee of the Red Cross visit prisoners.
“We feel they provide a more-than-sufficient ... unbiased, unfiltered look at our procedures,” Barno said. “I think they represent the interests of the persons under control quite well.”

Samar said she had received about 40 complaints this year, mainly about prisoners’ lack of contact with their families and U.S. troops breaking down doors to search homes. None alleged physical abuse, she said.
Though three died. Not quite up tto the 23 "detainees" that died in Iraq.

Whew, for a minute there I was worried.
The military opened a formal investigation into the deaths of two Afghans at Bagram’s closely guarded jail in December 2002, but says it has had trouble gathering evidence and has yet to release results.
Military autopsies found that both men died of blunt force injuries.
A third Afghan died last June at a holding facility in eastern Kunar province.

A U.S. intelligence official said last week that the CIA inspector general is investigating that death because it involved an independent contractor working for the agency.