Independent enquiry into torture in Uruzgan needed

9 September 2008

Independent enquiry into torture in Uruzgan needed

SP Member of Parliament Harry van Bommel wants to see an independent enquiry established into alleged torture of Afghans in the province of Uruzgan. Acts of torture are said to have been perpetrated by people under Dutch command. The Independent Afghan Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), based in the provincial capital Tarin Kowt, has access to six declarations by people who state that they were tortured, the daily newspaper De Pers reported on Tuesday.

According to AIHRC, the allegations include instances of beating, stamping, and administration of electric shocks, as well as attacks by dogs. It is not clear whether Dutch military personnel were directly involved in the torture. If not, it is then equally unclear why the Netherlands, which is in the leadership of the military operation in Uruzgan, failed to intervene to prevent soldiers of other nationalities from committing torture.

Harry van BommelVan Bommel is seeking an explanation from Minister of Defence Eimert van Middelkoop. “What we have heard from the Defence Ministry about gaining the trust of Uruzgan's population through reconstruction is being made a mockery of. Torture is against the law and against commitments and is undermining the goals of the Dutch operation in Uruzgan. It forms part of the conduct of a very tough war. I hope that it isn't true, but everything points to the opposite conclusion. An independent enquiry such as that conducted by the Van den Bergh Commission in the case of comparable accusations in Iraq is urgently needed, and the Red Cross could also be asked to conduct an enquiry in the field.”

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