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VI. Recommendations

To the United States Government:


  • Publicly identify all places in Afghanistan where the United States, including the CIA, is holding persons in detention. The CIA should transfer all detainees under its control to U.S. military or Afghan detention facilities or release them. In the event that the International Committee of the Red Cross does not have access to all detainees under U.S. control, permit full access immediately.

  • Ensure that all detainees are treated in accordance with international human rights law and international humanitarian law applicable to non-international armed conflicts. As the sovereign authority, the Afghan government is ultimately responsible for protecting the legal rights of those detained by the United States. The United States must take immediate measures in conjunction with the Afghan Ministry of the Interior to ensure that detainees at Bagram airbase and other U.S. detention sites are charged and prosecuted, or released, in accordance with international due process standards. This includes access to counsel, and the right to a fair and public trial before a competent, impartial, and independent court.

  • Permit families of detainees, and those providing legal assistance, to visit detainees.

  • Abide fully with U.S. obligations as a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Prohibit all interrogation techniques that cause physical or mental suffering. Cease practices, such as shackling and sleep deprivation, if they rise to the level of mistreatment. End incommunicado detention practices that facilitate mistreatment.

  • Fully and impartially investigation allegations of mistreatment of detainees in detention at all U.S. facilities in Afghanistan and make public the results of those investigations.

  • In particular, release the results of investigations into detainee deaths at Bagram and Asadabad military bases. Take disciplinary or criminal action as appropriate against all personnel responsible for mistreating or otherwise violating the rights of detainees.

Military Operations and Law Enforcement

  • In all circumstances comply with international humanitarian law standards to protect civilians against the dangers arising from military operations. These include prohibitions on attacks against civilians and civilian objects, indiscriminate attacks, and attacks that cause harm to civilians or civilian objects that are excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.

  • Take all precautionary measures during military operations, including: taking all feasible steps to verify that objectives to be attacked are not civilian but military; taking all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack to avoid or minimize harm to civilians and civilian objects; and canceling or postponing an attack where it becomes apparent the objective or target is not a military one or where civilian loss would be disproportionate. The United States must give particular attention to these standards during operations carried out in residential areas that have not been the scene of military action.

  • Revise as necessary standing Rules of Engagement for Afghanistan to ensure that in law enforcement situations, the U.S. armed forces and CIA forces abide by international standards on the use of force by law enforcement officials. For instance, indiscriminate suppressing fire should not be used in law-enforcement type operations.

  • In law enforcement situations, military forces should abide by the standards set forth in the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. U.S. forces deployed in such situations must be provided with the equipment and training necessary for this purpose. It is also necessary to have sufficient and appropriate interpreters to communicate with the local population. Applicable standards provide in part:

o In law enforcement operations, non-violent means shall be applied, as far as possible, before resorting to the use of force and firearms. Force and firearms may only be used if other means remain ineffective or without any promise of achieving the intended result.

o Whenever the lawful use of force and firearms is unavoidable, restraint must be exercised in their use and in proportion to the seriousness of the offence and the legitimate objective to be achieved. Force used must minimize damage and injury, and respect and preserve human life. Injured persons must receive medical aid and have their family notified at the earliest possible moment.

o Firearms shall not be used against persons except: in self-defense or defense of others against the imminent threat of death or serious injury, to prevent the perpetration of a particularly serious crime involving grave threat to life, to arrest a person presenting such a danger and resisting their authority, or to prevent escape, and only when less extreme means are insufficient to achieve these objectives. In any event, intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.

o It must be ensured that firearms are used only in appropriate circumstances and in a manner likely to decrease the risk of unnecessary harm. Prohibited are the use of those firearms and ammunition that cause unwarranted injury or present an unwarranted risk.

  • U.S. forces should, in all instances, take all appropriate steps to prevent or stop Afghan forces deployed with or under the command of U.S. forces from committing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. Those who do should be turned over to the proper Afghan authorities for disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.

To President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan Government:

  • Ensure, through the Ministry of the Interior, that the Afghan justice system applies to all persons detained in the country, including those held by U.S. forces at Bagram airbase and other detention facilities. Work with the United States to ensure that the fundamental rights of all detainees are respected.

  • Thoroughly and impartially investigate all allegations of criminal offenses and violations of the laws of war by Afghan military forces and militias, and take appropriate disciplinary and criminal action against those responsible.

  • Pressure the United States government to ensure that all forces operating in Afghanistan uphold international humanitarian law and human rights law.

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March 2004