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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2004, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
US in full review of Afghan jails
US forces with a suspected Taleban member in eastern Afghanistan
Treatment of prisoners has also drawn concern from the UN
The United States is to hold a "top-to-bottom" review of its detention centres in Afghanistan following allegations of prisoner abuse.

Army spokesman Lt Col Tucker Mansager said a general would be appointed to visit all of the 20 holding facilities.

The general will report back to the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Lt Gen David Barno, by mid-June.

Human rights groups have accused US troops in Afghanistan of the "systemic" abuse of prisoners.

Col Mansager said "portions" of the review would be made public.

The review was sparked initially by claims from a former police colonel, Sayed Nabi Siddiqui, in the New York Times that he was subjected to sexual abuse, taunting and lack of sleep while detained at the US base in Gardez, east of the capital, Kabul.

'Trust at risk'

Human Rights Watch then said it had documented "numerous cases of mistreatment of detainees", similar to those reported in Iraq.

The United Nations also warned that trust in US forces in Afghanistan would be at risk if the allegations were not properly investigated and made public.

Sayed Nabi Siddiqui
Former police colonel Siddiqui sparked the latest abuse claims

Col Mansager said the investigating general's brief would be to "ensure all facilities are adequate and procedures are in accordance with the spirit of the Geneva Conventions and are being followed correctly and fully, and that staffing and capabilities are adequate to the task".

It was unclear whether the general would be American or from another of the coalition nations.

Human Rights Watch says the abuse suffered by prisoners includes sleep deprivation, exposure to freezing temperatures, severe beatings, and detainees being stripped and photographed naked.

It also says the US military has still to "explain adequately" the deaths of three detainees in American custody.

Two deaths at Bagram airbase were ruled as homicides by US military doctors.

The group is now calling for the immediate release of details regarding these deaths.

The UN has also criticised the treatment of the prisoners. Spokesman Manoel de Almeida de Silva said he had been receiving reports of violations for the past two years.

"More than once we have requested details of investigations into the deaths of two detainees at Bagram," he said, "but regrettably we have not yet had access to this."

At least 300 people, the majority of them Afghans, are believed to be held at the main US base at Bagram, north of Kabul, and an unknown number at other sites.

US attacked over Afghan 'abuse'
13 May 04  |  South Asia
US probes Afghanistan abuse claim
12 May 04  |  South Asia
Afghan concern over Iraq abuses
10 May 04  |  South Asia
In pictures: Iraqi prisoner abuse
10 May 04  |  In Pictures
Red Cross details abuse claims
10 May 04  |  Americas
Iraqi inmate: 'Treated like dogs'
06 May 04  |  Americas
Many abuse inquiries under way
06 May 04  |  Middle East

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