Pressure on US over prisoners’ rights has not produced results

27 February 2006

Pressure on US over prisoners’ rights has not produced results

Harry van Bommel has asked Foreign Minister Ben Bot just what has been done about last year's promise to bring pressure to bear on the United States to treat prisoners in Afghanistan humanely. Mr Van Bommel is concerned by a report in the New York Times to the effect that the Americans are maintaining a secret prison at Bagram airbase, 40 kms to the north of the Afghan capital Kabul. As many as five hundred prisoners are being held under conditions which can scarcely be described as humanitarian and without any legal basis for their imprisonment.

According to independent American experts the situation in the prison is even worse than that of people detained in Guantanamo Bay. Most prisoners are held for lengthy periods and, what is more, without any recourse to justice, in the hope that they will give information on the Taliban and Al Qaida. The living conditions are pitiable, with prisoners being held in cages, while the interrogation methods applied are unacceptable.

Human rights organisations have unanimously condemned the American approach and UN chief Kofi Annan has recently called for the closure of the torture camp.

“This kind of imprisonment is morally unacceptable and, moreover, completely counter-productive,” said SP foreign affairs spokesman Harry van Bommel. “The prisoners, as well as many others in the Muslim world will be provoked by such methods into hatred of the West and into resistance. Terrorism is not combated in this way but positively cultivated. This way of operating will fuel a resistance which could also have consequences for Dutch soldiers, certainly given the fact that at the end of January Dutch commandos were responsible for the arrest of two wounded Afghan fighters. I want to know where these people are detained and how they are being treated.”

Mr Bot himself last year called the Americans' treatment of prisoners ‘unacceptable’ and said that he would personally urge improvements. This has clearly not produced results. Mr Van Bommel has therefore put a parliamentary question to the minister, asking him if the pressure he promised to bring to bear on the Americans has in his opinion been sufficient. “Real measures must be taken against the morally bankrupt and completely stupid policies of the Americans.”

The New York Times revelations

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