Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalised, Study Finds

By Gareth Porter

March 30, 2010

Nearly two of every three male juveniles arrested in Afghanistan are physically abused, according to a study based on interviews with 40 percent of all those now incarcerated in the country’s juvenile justice system.

The study, carried out by U.S. defence attorney Kimberly Motley for the international children’s rights organisation Terre des Hommes, reveals a justice system that subjects juveniles, many of whom are already innocent victims, to torture, forced confessions and blatant violation of their rights in court.

Motley, who may be the only practicing Western defence attorney in Afghanistan, told IPS that the study shows the need for alternatives to introducing juveniles into what she calls the “injustice system”.

The author personally interviewed 250 of the 600 juveniles in jails and rehabilitation centres across the country, including half the 80 girls and 40 percent of the 520 boys, as well as 98 professionals working in the system.

Although only two of the girls interviewed reported being beaten by police, 130 out of the 208 boys under the age of 18 interviewed said they had been beaten. The interviews were carried out by Motley in 28 provinces from September through December 2009.

Those statistics parallel the findings of a study published by the U.N. Children’s Fund and the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission in 2008, which found that 55 percent of boys and 11 percent of girls reported having been beaten upon their arrest.

Virtually all the male juveniles said the police beatings were aimed at forcing them to sign a confession. They said they had signed either while being beaten or threatened with being beaten, and that the confessions were then used to convict them.

The testimony of the juveniles themselves on brutalisation by police was consistent with Motley’s interviews with juvenile court judges. Forty-four percent of the judges interviewed indicated that juveniles complained routinely about torture and physical abuse by police officers. Another 33 percent refused to answer when asked whether they had heard such complaints.

Many of the boys interviewed by Motley reported that they been beaten by several police simultaneously. In one case, a 17-year-old said he was “kicked liked an animal” by six or seven policemen after his arrest.

One juvenile charged with putting up signs around the city threatening terrorist acts told Motley that he signed a confession only after having been subjected to electric shock and hung from the ceiling by the National Security Police. The torture continued for more than two months, according to the boy.

The prosecutor in the case admitted to Motley that she had not only been aware of the accusations of torture but had seen marks on the boy’s body indicating that the confessions had indeed been obtained under torture.

The prosecutor further acknowledged that no witnesses or other evidence had been presented in support of the charges against the boy.

The judge in the case told Motley that when asked in court why the case had not been dismissed as required by Afghan law, the prosecutors admitted that it was because they were afraid of the National Security Police and felt they had no choice.

In addition to the male juveniles who had signed coerced confessions by their thumbprint, 24 percent of all the male and female juveniles interviewed told Motley they had signed confessions prepared by police without realising it until they had gone to court. In some cases, they were tricked into signing a blank sheet of paper which was then used for the confession.

Almost half the children brought before a court in Afghanistan are also denied the right to speak in their defence, according to Motley’s study. Forty-seven percent of those interviewed, including 62 percent of those in the western region, were not allowed to testify on their own behalf.

One of the male juveniles denied the right to testify in court was a boy charged with pederasty, or sexual relations between an adult male and a child. As is often the case, he was the victim of rape, after having been kidnapped by three adults, all of whom were released and never charged.

When the boy tried to explain in court that he was raped, however, he was told by the judge not to speak or even look at her, Motley recounts. The attorney for the child “barely spoke out for him,” and he was sentenced to five years in jail.

Motley also found, however, that 71 percent of the judges surveyed expressed the view that, if a juvenile remains silent in court when asked questions by a judge, they must be guilty.

Mohammad Ibrahim Hassan, a human rights activist in Afghanistan for two decades, told IPS the bias against presumption of innocence is deeply imbedded in Afghan culture. “A majority of the people in Afghanistan are against the presumption of innocence,” he said in a recent interview in Kabul.

In the Afghan justice system, he observed, “When they arrest somebody, they think you have to expect the worst punishment.”

A recent visit to the Kabul juvenile rehabilitation centre, on which this reporter was accompanied by Motley, further confirmed the prevalence of brutalisation of juvenile males by police.

In one the centre’s male dormitory rooms, which was chosen at random, the 10 juveniles present were asked through an interpreter how many had been beaten by police after their arrest.

Half of the boys raised their hands. One recalled having been subjected to electric shock in order to get him to sign a confession. “They put the cables on my toes and fingers,” he said, “and they turned on the electricity many times for a few seconds.”

He agreed to sign, and the police handed him a piece of paper on which to put his thumbprint.

Describing his treatment at the hands of the police, another boy said, “They would ask us, ‘have you committed this crime?’, and if we said no, they would beat us.”

Gareth Porter is an investigative historian and journalist specialising in U.S. national security policy. The paperback edition of his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, was published in 2006

Source

U.S. report offers damning picture of human rights abuses in Afghanistan

Conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds

By Paul Koring

March 12, 2010

Afghan prison conditions are horrific, torture is common and police frequently rape female detainees, the U.S. State Department finds in its annual survey of human rights.

The damning report paints a grim picture of scant respect for human rights by the embattled regime headed by President Hamid Karzai. While Taliban treatment of civilians is even worse, the report’s assessment of vile prison conditions and routine abuse and torture by Afghan police and security raises new questions about whether Canada and other nations are still transferring prisoners to known torturers. Doing so is a war crime under international law.

“Torture was commonplace among the majority of law enforcement institutions, especially the police,” the U.S. report found, citing the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, the group used by Ottawa to help monitor whether detainees transferred by Canadian troops are abused or tortured.

Canadian diplomats compile a similar annual report on selected countries – including Afghanistan – but it isn’t made public. Government censors blacked out all references to torture, abuse and extrajudicial killings by Afghan police and prison guards in the last available report obtained under Access to Information.

Yesterday’s U.S. report makes no similar attempt to shield allies from human rights scrutiny, even in places where U.S. troops are deployed.

Michael Posner, the U.S. undersecretary of state for human rights and democracy whose group prepared the mammoth report – generally considered the most authoritative annual assessment of conditions in more than 190 countries – said the issue of foreign troops being ordered by their governments to hand detainees to Afghan security forces was vexed.

“How can United States and NATO countries ensure or guarantee safe treatment or fair process when those transfers occur. … Those are issues very much on our minds,” Mr. Posner said.

The U.S. runs a prison facility at Bagram where more than 600 battlefield detainees are held. Some of them have been there for six years. But Canada, Britain, the Netherlands and other NATO countries with troops fighting in southern Afghanistan turn prisoners over to Afghan police and the Afghan internal security service (National Directorate of Security), usually within 96 hours. For years, no follow-up inspections were made to ensure transferred prisoners weren’t tortured or killed, but after publication of harrowing accounts of abuse, Ottawa added sporadic inspections.

Most Canadian detainees are turned over to the feared NDS. The U.S. report said it was impossible to determine how many prisons the NDS operates, or how many prisoners they contain. The report, which covers 2009, also noted that the Afghan government was making efforts to improve conditions in prisons.

Canada generally got good marks but the Harper government’s long-running effort to keep a Canadian citizen from returning home was cited. “In July the government complied with an order of the Federal Court of Canada and facilitated the return to Canada of Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian-Sudanese dual national, after the Court determined that Canadian officials had been complicit in his detention in Sudan in 2003,” the report said.

******

TORTURE, RAPE, CHILD ABUSE COMMON

Excerpts from the Afghanistan sections of the U.S. government’s latest human rights report:

  • Afghan police and security “tortured and abused detainees. Torture and abuse methods included, but were not limited to, beating by stick, scorching bar, or iron bar; flogging by cable; battering by rod; electric shock; deprivation of sleep, water, and food; abusive language; sexual humiliation; and rape.”
  • Afghan “police frequently raped female detainees and prisoners.”
  • “Harems of young boys were cloistered for ‘bacha baazi’ (boy-play) for sexual and social entertainment …”
  • “Child abuse was endemic throughout the country, based on cultural beliefs about child-rearing, and included general neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse, abandonment, and confined forced labor to pay off family debts.”
  • “Human rights problems included extrajudicial killings, torture, poor prison conditions, official impunity, prolonged pretrial detention, restrictions on freedom of the press, restrictions on freedom of religion, violence and societal discrimination against women, restrictions on religious conversions, abuses against minorities, sexual abuse of children, trafficking in persons, abuse of worker rights, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, and child labor.” Source
NATO and the US have done a bang up job now haven’t they?
Life is worse for Afghans now then before the war. They also have a Heroin addiction problem as well. Even children get addicted to Heroin.
Poverty is up. Unemployment is up. Many have died and been maimed.
This all compliment of the the US and NATO.
Everywhere they go they leave behind a trail of death and horror.
They call the people defending their countries terrorists.
One has to think about who the real terrorists are.
To defend your homeland ans those in Iraq and Afghanistan did is not being a terrorist.
The invaders are the real Terrorist. The invader brings with them torture and mass murder.
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Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 5:03 am  Comments Off on Two-Thirds of Boys in Afghan Jails Are Brutalised, Study Finds  
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Gaza is in Desperate need of real help

Gaza power station to shut down this weekend

By Saed Bannoura

January 26 2010
Gaza’s only power station will close by the end of this week following a European Union decision to stop buying fuel for the plant. According to the power station’s director, Rafeeq Maliha, “Since last November the EU has stopped funding the purchase of diesel for us.” This means, he added, that without some external intervention between now and this weekend, the densely populated Gaza Strip will have no central power source to operate many basic services.

Engineer Imad Canaan, the vice president of the Palestinian Power Authority explained that the power authority is unable to continue providing adequate energy resources to the citizens of Gaza. “The Israeli blockade and the suspension of EU support have reduced the output of the station by 50%,” he said.

The Gaza Power Station has been bombarded repeatedly and deliberately by Israel, most notably during the assault and invasion a year ago when the Israelis targeted the civilian infrastructure. The Israeli blockade of Gaza has prevented vital repair materials being imported; these are essential if the power station is to return to full operational capacity. Source

Sewage Collapse threatens the health of Palestinians in Gaza

January 27 2010

Palestinians in Gaza have a lot to contend with, especially since the war launched by the Israeli Occupiers just over a year ago. With the loss of more than 1,400 Palestinian lives, most of whom were women and children, the near total destruction of whatever little infrastructure that remained and the general pillaging of the territory, Palestinians are once again faced with the prospect of rebuilding their lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

However, because of the ongoing Israeli blockade on essential materials, the Palestinians have not been able to carry out any reconstruction of their houses, hospitals, schools and the local infrastructure, including the power station and sewage treatment plants. Sewage disposal has become a huge problem all over Gaza, with leaks onto farmland and into nearby water sources leading to pollution and less fertile soil, which in turn has led to poor harvests. Sewage and waste material from cities and refugee camps with limited access to sewage treatment plants is ending up in water sources which lead to the beaches of Gaza and the sea. This has resulted in severe water pollution and the contamination of fish,  as well as a variety of acute and chronic water-borne diseases.

For entire story and photos go HERE

Israelis impose “financial punishments” on Palestinians

January 26 2010

Israeli prison staff impose financial punishments on Palestinian prisoners.

A human rights organisation has claimed that Israeli prison staff are imposing financial punishments on Palestinian prisoners. In a statement, the Prisoners’ Centre for Studies said that guards and administrators in Israeli prisons force Palestinian detainees to pay for the water and electricity that they consume as a form of additional punishment.

According to the centre, prisoners are also “fined” for trivial reasons, such as reading the Qur’an or praying during the prison’s daily roll call (if officers enter when it is the time for prayer); if the imam, while giving the Friday sermon, utters a word that the guards don’t like; when a prisoner doesn’t manage to get out of the bathroom in the time specified by the guards; and for other similar reasons when the guards abuse their positions and use any excuse to penalise prisoners.

The centre’s director, Raafat Hamdouna, claims that prison administrators withdraw the “fines” from prisoners’ personal bank accounts without informing prisoners. If anyone doesn’t have a bank account, the administration imposes a future fine against his name, provoking the prisoner even further.

Mr. Hamdouna called upon human rights and humanitarian organizations to intervene to stop this unreasonable behaviour. “The Israelis treat prisoners like tenants and force them to pay for water, electricity, food and accommodation,” he added. Source

Members of Congress sign letter urging Obama to stop the siege of Gaza

Fifty-four members of Congress urging the president to pressure Israel to treat Gazans like human beings is a positive development, albeit a VERY small one.  Critics may content that the letter protects Israel’s image. I understand that. But I still think it’s encouraging.

Names of the 54 are at the above link. Just so we know who actually cares about the people of Gaza.

Considering 344 voted to condemn the Goldstone report I do not see this going to far.

Even the UN has tried to get the blockade removed.

Gaza is in desperate need of materials to repair rebuild. Soon they will have no hydro. So just imagine if you had no hydro. This will affect evrything from hospitals to  bussiniesses and storage of food and the list goes on an on.

Aid money was promised to help rebuild Gaza and little to none has been received by them. The blockade keeps everything out. This is also in the face of a recent flood in Gaza which has done even more damage. This of course was never in the main stream media.  How typical.

Of course much of what we should be told is never in the main stream media.

Shame on them. Shame on the world leaders who do nothing but talk about it.

That is all they do is talk. Of course that makes it into the media and fools the public at large that they are actually doing something, when in fact they are really doing nothing.  What has changed for those in Gaza or the West bank in the last year. NOTHING. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAS CHANGED.

Their lives go from bad to worse is all. Every day their lives are more difficult.  Thanks to the world leaders who pretend to do something. That is all they do is pretend. They are doing little to help ease the pain and suffering of the Palestinians.

Seems the EU and Western Countries have done little to nothing to help those in Gaza.

Due to the lack of real help people are suffering beyond imagination. Ignored by the Main stream media and World Leaders.  Tiger Woods got more air time then people who are suffering and dieing. Well that says it all doesn’t it.

How coincidental the Gaza flood took place during the Haiti Crisis.

Guaranteed it would be ignored by all the main stream media.

Gaza is in crisis and no one seems to notice. The 54 who signed the letter to Obama at least care enough to try.  Will Obama listen I hardly thing so he is helping Egypt built the wall of shame and it is a shame. He has done nothing to ease the desperation of those in Gaza and if any time he says he is doing something I know as many other do it is pure BS. His actions  and those of the US Government speaks volumes. They want to destroy the people of Gaza.

The blockade is killing Gaza, say NGOs and UN agencies

January 22 2010

One year after Israel’s military offensive on Gaza, United Nations agencies and the Association for International Development Agencies (AIDA), representing over 80 NGOs, are highlighting the impact of the blockade on Gaza on the health of its population and on health services – and are calling for an immediate opening of Gaza’s crossings.

Max Gaylard, the Resident Humanitarian Coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territories, said on Wednesday 20 January 2010 that “the continuing closure of the Gaza Strip is undermining the functioning of the health care system and putting at risk the health of 1.4 million people in Gaza.”

He continued: “It is causing on-going deterioration in the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. It is hampering the provision of medical supplies and the training of health staff and it is preventing patients with serious medical conditions getting timely specialised treatment outside Gaza”

The economy of Gaza is in virtual collapse with rising unemployment and poverty which will have long term adverse effects on the physical and mental health of the population. The environment is also in decline, including water quality, sewage and waste disposal and other environmental hazards (including munitions and medical waste) which may lead to long term effects on health.

More than 750,000 children live in Gaza. The humanitarian community is gravely concerned about the future of this generation whose health needs are not being met. The decline in infant mortality, which has fallen steadily over recent decades, has stalled in the last few years.

The lack of building materials as a result of the blockade is affecting essential health facilities: the new surgical wing in Gaza’s main Shifa hospital has remained unfinished since 2006. Hospitals and primary care facilities, damaged during operation ‘Cast Lead’, have not been rebuilt because construction materials are not allowed into Gaza.

Operation ‘Cast Lead’ damaged 15 of Gaza’s 27 hospitals and 43 of its 110 primary health care facilities were either damaged or destroyed.

Supplies of drugs and disposables have generally been allowed into Gaza – though there are often shortages on the ground. However, certain types of medical equipment, such as x-ray equipment and electronic devices are very difficult to bring in. Clinical staff frequently lack the medical equipment they need. Medical devices are often broken, missing spare parts, or out of date.

Health professionals in Gaza have been cut off from the outside world. Since 2000, very few doctors, nurses or technicians have been able to leave the Strip for training necessary to update their clinical skills or to learn about new medical technology. This is severely undermining their ability to provide quality health care.

Many specialised treatments, for example, complex heart surgery and treatment for certain types of cancer, are not available and patients are therefore referred for treatment to hospitals outside Gaza. But many patients have had their applications for exit permits denied or delayed by the Israeli Authorities and have missed their appointments. Some have died while waiting for referral.

Tony Laurance, the Head of Office for the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the West Bank and Gaza, declared: “An effective health care system cannot be sustained in isolation from the international community. Open borders are needed to ensure the health of the 1.4 million people in Gaza”

The humanitarian community believes the health sector would face serious problems in dealing with another emergency on the scale of last year’s Operation Cast Lead, said AIDA yesterday. “The Government of Israel has a legal duty to guarantee the right to health for people in Gaza. The humanitarian community calls for the crossings into Gaza to be reopened.”

Source

Survey of Palestinian Refugees & IDPs 2008-2009

More than 61 years since the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) and 42 years after Israel’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the issue of forced displacement of Palestinians from their homeland remains an ongoing phenomenon that fails to receive the attention it deserves.

At the end of 2008, at least 7.1 million Palestinians, representing 67 percent of the entire Palestinian population (10.6 million) worldwide were displaced persons. Among them are 6.6 million refugees and 427,000 IDPs. This makes Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) the largest and longest-standing case of displaced persons in the world today.

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Published in: on January 28, 2010 at 11:16 pm  Comments Off on Gaza is in Desperate need of real help  
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Gaza detainee treatment ‘inhuman’

Gaza detainee treatment ‘inhuman’

Israeli reservists enter Gaza, 12 Jan 2008

It is not known how many Palestinians were detained during the operation

Palestinians seized during Israel’s operation in Gaza faced “appalling” conditions and “inhuman” treatment, Israeli human rights groups have said.

The seven groups say they have gathered 20 testimonies which indicate detainees were kept in pits without shelter, toilets or adequate food and water.

Some detainees also said they had been held “near tanks” and in combat areas, the groups said.

The Israeli military says it is investigating the allegations.

The accounts were gathered by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) and Hamoked, the Center for the Defense of the Individual, from Palestinians now being held in Israel.

‘Gross violation’

“The reports indicate that… many detainees – minors as well as adults – were held for many hours – sometimes for days – in pits dug in the ground, exposed to bitter cold and harsh weather, handcuffed and blindfolded,” the groups said in a statement.

“These pits lacked basic sanitary facilities… while food and shelter, when provided, were limited, and the detainees went hungry,” it said.

The groups accused the military of “gross violation of international humanitarian law” by holding some of the detainees close to tanks.

Incidents involving “extreme violence and humiliation by soldiers and interrogators” were also reported, the statement said, without giving details.

“We were handcuffed and blindfolded. They put us in a three-meter deep ditch with some 70 other people,” Majdi Muhammad Ayid al-Atar, 43, from northern Gaza described, in one of the testimonies.

“We spent two days there without any food, water or blankets. They also didn’t let us go to the toilet. Afterwards they moved us to another ditch. The soldiers kept beating anyone who dared ask for anything,” he was quoted as saying.

Lengthy preparation

The groups have addressed a written complaint to the Military Judge Advocate General, and Israel’s Attorney General, Meni Mazuz.

Attorney Bana Shoughry-Badarne, Legal Director of PCATI, said the findings were “particularly objectionable” as the Israeli military had repeatedly stressed that it “prepared at length for the Gaza operation”.

“It seems that, during these lengthy preparations, the basic rights of the detainees and captives were completely forgotten,” she said.

She said the groups had the names of 29 people who had been detained, 25 of whom were still being held.

The other groups were the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Physicians for Human Rights, B’Tselem, Yesh Din and Adalah.

Source

They were using the detainees as “Human Shields”. This of course is what they said Hamas was doing, but of course Israel itself was doing it.

Seems Israel does everything, it says Hamas is doing.

One has to wonder how many detainees they have in their prisons?

Considering many people have been kidnapped from Gaza in the past, the number may be very high. One can bet they are being tortured as well.

I wonder how many “Guantanamo prisons”  there are in Israel?

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