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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June, 2004, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Red Cross Afghan jail abuse probe
US forces with a suspected Taleban member in eastern Afghanistan
The United Nations has warned that trust in US forces is at risk
The US is to allow the Red Cross to visit a detention centre in the Afghan city of Kandahar following accusations of prisoner abuse in US-run jails.

The Red Cross was previously allowed to visit only the main holding camp at Bagram, near Kabul.

Last month, the US ordered a "top-to-bottom" review of its detention centres in Afghanistan.

Human rights groups had accused US troops in the country of the "systemic" abuse of prisoners.

Around 350-400 prisoners are thought to be held in about 20 US-run holding centres in Afghanistan.

Review due

A US military spokesman said the head of US forces in Afghanistan, Lieutenant General David Barno, had agreed to a request by the International Committee of the Red Cross for access to the Kandahar centre.

The spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Tucker Mansager, said the decision was made because prisoners were spending a longer time at Kandahar than had been anticipated.

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

All US centres except Bagram are for transit only.

However, Colonel Mansager stressed that all detainees in Afghanistan were being treated with dignity and respect in accordance with the Geneva Conventions.

Last month General Barno ordered a full review of US-run detention centres.

Brigadier General Charles H Jacoby is heading the review and is scheduled to report back this month.

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.

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

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.

The United Nations has warned that trust in US forces in Afghanistan will be at risk if the abuse allegations are not properly investigated and made public.

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10 May 04  |  Americas
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06 May 04  |  Americas
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06 May 04  |  Middle East

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