Friday, February 16, 2007

U.S. detained abuse cases, human rights ignored

Rights group slams U.S. on Afghan record

NEW YORK, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- A U.S. human rights group Friday slammed the U.S. government on its record in Afghanistan.

"The United States has failed to adequately investigate and prosecute numerous cases of detainee abuse by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan," Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch cited numerous cases of alleged abuse and killings in Afghanistan implicating U.S. military and Central Intelligence Agency personnel, in which U.S. authorities have failed to hold suspected perpetrators responsible.

Human Rights Watch said the U.S. military had yet to probe satisfactorily many instances "of abuse implicating military personnel, including several killings of detainees in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. Nor has the military sought to prosecute senior officers on the grounds of command responsibility for failing to stop abuses that they knew or should have known were occurring."

"The failure of accountability in Afghanistan is notable because a military unit involved in interrogations in Afghanistan in 2002 -- the Army's 519th Military Intelligence Battalion -- was later sent to Iraq and implicated in infamous abuses that took place at Abu Ghraib prison," HRW said.

Human Rights Watch also had harsh words for the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ, the group said, had not probed "whether civilian leadership in the CIA and military committed crimes by authorizing abusive interrogations in Afghanistan."

HRW cited one of its earlier reports as documenting "how authorizations for abuse likely spread from Afghanistan to Iraq, after the United States invaded in 2003."

"The failure to investigate senior U.S. officials for their role in authorizing detainee abuse is not for lack of evidence but for lack of political will," said Sam Zarifi, Human Rights Watch's Asia research director. "Only an independent prosecutor can mount credible investigations into detainee abuse issues, and Congress should press the administration to appoint one."