UN report on torture of Afghan prisoners

Posted on | oktober 12, 2011 | No Comments

Wars necessarily entail abuses of the most extreme types, especially against innocent civilians but most definitely at the expense of war prisoners. Although the Geneva Convention that nations have signed and thus have agreed to respect prisoners’ rights, abuses continue. Given that the US has been involved in two major wars in the last ten years, it has been subject to severe criticism for its handling of prisoners. One reason that the US can operate in this manner is because no international court of justice or any other world body can discipline it, because it is the world’s sole military superpower, whereas a small country would be subject to all types of sanctions and its leaders and military officers put on trial.

Based on the interview of several hundred prisoners, a UN report, that the Washington Post has obtained, alleges that prisoners captured by coalition forces in the Afghan war are systematically tortured in the quest to secure intelligence information from them about Taliban fighters. A Pentagon spokesperson’s comment to the UN report was that in a war where ‘suicide attacks and other terrorist crimes” take place, it is to be expected that such thing as widespread and systematic torture of prisoners would take place. The UN informed the US about its report, prompting US halting of prisoner transfers to Afghan authorities who would then carry out the various methods of torture in the process of trying to secure information from them.

According to the New York Times, the US was torturing prisoners at Bagram base as early as 2002, although the story did not come out until three years later. The published reports that exist from several sources indicate that the US has directly or indirectly been involved in the systematic torture of prisoners in direct violation of the Geneva Convention that protects the rights of prisoners and guarantees humanitarian treatment. A number of US politicians like John McCain as well as military officers like General David Petraeus has admitted in the past that the US has violated the Geneva Convention.

The question is one of accountability and the blatant double-standard. Who is held accountable for such violations of international agreements at a time that the US constantly demands that others from former Libyan dictator Gaddhafi to current Syrian president al-Assad be held responsible for crimes against their own people? Finally, is it not exactly this type of conduct that makes Americans and people from around the world skeptical that anything has changed fundamentally in the way the Pentagon does business, simply because a self-proclaimed progressive/Liberal Democrat is in the White House?

AUTHOR: Jon Kofas
URL: http://jonkofas.blogspot.com
E-MAIL: jonkofas [at] yahoo.com


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