<<previous  | index  |  next>>

V. Conclusions

This report raises serious concerns regarding the actions of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, specifically with regard to the use of excessive force during arrests; arbitrary or mistaken arrests and indefinite detention; and mistreatment in detention:

  • U.S. forces regularly use military means and methods during arrest operations in residential areas where law enforcement techniques would be more appropriate. This has resulted in unnecessary civilian casualties and may in some cases have involved indiscriminate or disproportionate force in violation of international humanitarian law.

  • Members of the U.S. armed forces have arrested numerous civilians not directly participating in the hostilities and numerous persons whom U.S. authorities have no legal basis for taking into custody. These cases raise serious questions about the intelligence gathering and processing that leads to arrests and call into question the practice of arresting any and sometimes all Afghan men found in the vicinity of U.S. military operations.

  • Persons detained by U.S. forces in Afghanistan are held without regard to the requirements of international humanitarian law or human rights law. They are not provided reasons for their arrest or detention. They are held virtually incommunicado without any legal basis for challenging their detention or seeking their release. They are held at the apparent whim of U.S. authorities, in some cases for more than a year.

  • The general lack of due process within the U.S. detention system violates both international humanitarian law and basic standards of human rights law. The United States, as a detaining power in Afghanistan, is essentially applying no legal principles to the persons whom they detain in Afghanistan. Simply put, the United States is acting outside the rule of law. There are no judicial processes restraining their actions in arresting persons in Afghanistan. The only real legal limits on their activities are self-imposed, and there is little evidence that the Department of Defense has seriously investigated allegations of abuses or mistreatment at Bagram, and the department has most certainly not sought on its own to correct the legal deficiencies of its detention regime.

  • There are serious concerns regarding the treatment of detainees at Bagram airbase, particularly in light of the failure of the United States to investigate and publicly report on several unexplained deaths in detention. There is credible evidence of beatings and other physical assaults of detainees, as well as evidence that the United States has used prolonged shackling, exposure to cold, and sleep deprivation amounting to torture or other mistreatment in violation of international law. Neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor the CIA has adequately responded to allegations of mistreatment at U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan.

<<previous  |  index  |  next>>

March 2004