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UK court documents allege Afghan detainee abuse

[JURIST] British human rights lawyers on Monday submitted documents to a UK High Court that allege Britain allowed Afghan detainees to be tortured [press release] following their transfer to Afghanistan authorities. The documents were submitted by Public Interest Lawyers [advocacy website] on behalf of human rights and anti-war activist Maya Evans, who is seeking a judicial inquiry [CBC report] into Britain's policy for transferring detainees in Afghanistan. Evans alleges that British officials turned over al Qaeda and Taliban suspects to Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS), which is believed to have used torture [Globe and Mail report] as a means of interrogating prisoners. The documents detail nine cases of detainee abuse, including the use of physical beatings, electrocution, and sleep deprivation. The application for review has been opposed by Secretary of State for Defence Bob Ainsworth [official profile], who has said that safeguards were put in place to prevent abuse.

Concerns over detainee abuse were first brought to light in a 2007 report [text; JURIST report] by Amnesty International [advocacy website], which said that the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) [official website], led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), was exposing terrorism detainees to risks of torture by transferring NATO-held detainees into custody of Afghanistan authorities. Amnesty's report focused on actions by Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, and the UK, saying that the forces from those countries have been transferring terror detainees to the NDS, despite numerous reports of torture. The report prompted Evans to bring her suit seeking judicial review in 2008. The case mirrors similar allegations that Canadian military officials were complicit [JURIST news archive] in the torture of detainees that were transferred to Afghanistan officials.

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