Monday, May 5, 2008

Dutch-Australian torture allegations exposed

Now it's Australia and Holland's turn for a detainee abuse scandal:

The Age (Australia)
Troops accused of passing captives to Afghan torturers

May 4 - Prisoners captured by Australian and Dutch troops in Afghanistan allege they have been beaten after being handed over to the notorious Afghan secret police.

While the Australian Defence Force says there is no evidence prisoners taken by Australian troops have been mistreated, official documents show three have complained they were beaten around the head by secret police after being captured by the Dutch-Australian taskforce.

The Dutch documents show prisoners are routinely handed over to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), which human rights groups accuse of torturing and abusing prisoners.

International law prohibiting torture outlaws returning a person to the custody of a nation where they risk torture or other ill-treatment.

The heavily censored foreign and defence ministry documents, released to a Dutch newspaper, do not specify the nationality of the troops who captured the men.

Nor is there any allegation of abuses by Australian troops, although there is one claim of mistreatment by Dutch soldiers. ...

The internal documents were obtained by the NRC Handelsblad daily under freedom of information laws. They reveal complaints made to Dutch diplomats last year by prisoners captured by the taskforce and transferred to the NDS.

One said he was beaten "several times" in Tarin Kowt. Another complained he was beaten on the head three times in Oruzgan, and pointed to a scar. A third prisoner made similar allegations.

The ADF refuses to say how many prisoners it has captured, citing "operational and security reasons".

The Dutch Government says that since 2006 the taskforce has taken 150 prisoners. Most are released soon after capture. The documents list 62 prisoners detained last year, of whom 21 were passed to the NDS.

The documents mention 13 prisoners captured by Australians ...

Official documents released in Canada late last year included accounts of abuses inflicted by secret police on prisoners captured by Canadian soldiers.

At the same time, Amnesty International said allied troops could be complicit in torture by handing prisoners to the NDS and putting them "at grave risk of torture and ill-treatment".

Amid the controversy, officials from nations with troops in Afghanistan, including Australia, met in London on December 10 to review the handling, transfer and monitoring of prisoners. ... (link)


Sam said...

I've just spoken to a mate of mine who was in Afghanistan December 07 to March 08 as a doctor with the Australian forces (working with the Dutch). He was appalled at the abuse he saw of the local patients under his care, complained to his superiors, was told to mind his own business. His life was made hell.
Back in Australia, he is now being given a chance to write a report on the 'incidents', though who knows if it will see the light of day.

Dave Markland said...

It sounds like your friend has already shown considerable courage. I hope he perseveres in getting his story out.
Thank you for your comment.