Afghan parliament should delay security chief appointment over torture allegations

As Kandahar governor, Assadulah Khalid supervised notorious Brigade 888

Amnesty International is urging parliamentarians in Afghanistan to delay a vote on the proposed appointment of a new head of national security until allegations that he has been involved in torture and other human rights abuses are fully investigated.

The Afghan parliament is due to vote on President Karzai’s proposal to appoint Assadullah Khalid as the new director of Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Earlier this week (2 September) the president nominated Khalid for the role. Afghanistan’s parliament is required to approve or reject such nominations for senior government positions, including for ministers, the NDS director and Supreme Court judges.

There have been numerous reports [1] of Khalid’s alleged involvement, both directly and in a supervisory role, in the commission of crimes under international law, including torture and unlawful killings - in particular during his service as governor of Ghazni Province between 2001-2005, and governor of Kandahar Province between 2005-2008.

In 2007 Amnesty reported [2] on cases of torture, including at the Kandahar NDS detention facility, while Khalid was governor of Kandahar and had oversight of all provincial departments including the NDS. There are also credible allegations [3] that Khalid was involved in the bombing of a UN vehicle in Kandahar that killed five UN workers in April 2007.

Meanwhile, as Kandahar governor, Khalid supervised Brigade 888, which comprised dozens of armed men who are alleged to have arbitrarily arrested and tortured individuals perceived as having links with the Taleban and other insurgent groups in Kandahar. It is widely reported [4] that detainees were tortured on the Kandahar governor’s premises.

Afghanistan is a state party to the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and has an obligation to investigate all allegations of torture committed by Afghan government officials or institutions and to ensure victims are protected and provided with justice, compensation or reparation, and to remove and prosecute individuals responsible for torture.  

Amnesty is urging President Karzai, the Afghan parliament and all other Afghan authorities to guarantee that all individuals suspected of having committed serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law - including war crimes - are held to account for their actions.

Amnesty is also calling on the Afghan president and all members of the Afghan parliament to ensure that the human rights records of every nominee for a senior government position - including for the NDS director, the Minister of Defence and the Minister of Interior (all now before parliament) - have been fully assessed by the President’s Advisory Panel on Senior Appointments, as officially required. Any credible allegations of links to serious human rights violations should be fully and openly considered by parliament before any voting on the proposed appointments.

Meanwhile, Amnesty is also urging international partners of the Afghan government to ensure that the rule of law, accountability and access to justice are meaningfully delivered to the Afghan people, as promised at the July 2012 Tokyo Conference declaration.  

Notes:
1:  See for example: Parliament of Canada, 40th Parliament, Second Session, Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan, Evidence, 18 November 2009: www.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?DocId=4236267&Languag…

2:  Amnesty International, Afghanistan Detainees Transferred to Torture: ISAF complicity?: http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA11/011/2007/en br />  
3: CBC News, Afghan governor's rights abuses known in '07, April 2010: www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2010/04/12/afghan-governor-human-rights-… /p>

4:  The Globe and Mail, House of pain: Canada’s connection with Kandahar’s ruthless palace guard, 10 April 2010: www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/house-of-pain-canadas-connection-… br />  

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