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UK torture transfers

Can a 'known torturer' and drug dealer be expected to uphold human rights? The British government thinks so.

The British government is attempting to overturn a moratorium on the transfer of Afghans captured by British forces to the Afghan secret police (NDS), despite longstanding accusations by a Canadian diplomat that NDS director Asadullah Khalid ‘was known to personally torture people’ in a dungeon under his guest house in Kandahar.

In May, the UK was forced to halt all transfers to NDS facilities following legal action by Leigh Day & Co and Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) – the latter acting on behalf of well-known peace activist Maya Evans (see PN 2546) – as a result of new evidence of the continued torture of transferred detainees despite the introduction of supposed ‘safeguards’ by the UK.

On 2 November, the UK sought to restart the transfers, though this move was blocked by the high court pending a full hearing at the end of November.

Principal culprit

Documents disclosed on 2 November reveal that in June the UN mission in Afghanistan told Britain’s deputy ambassador, Catherine Royle, that ‘torture was continuing to take place at NDS and ANP [Afghan National Police] facilities across Afghanistan’.

According to the UN mission, Mr Khalid was one of the ‘principal culprits’ in Kandahar, where ‘systematic abuse’ was taking place ‘of many times the magnitude of the problem elsewhere’.

Mr Khalid assured foreign office minister baroness Warsi that he would ‘uphold human rights standards’, following his appointment as NDS director in September.

Topics: Afghanistan