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Report: American Troops Abusing and Killing Afghans

A new report by Human Rights Watch charges that American troops are killing and abusing Afghans:

US troops in Afghanistan are operating outside the rule of law, using excessive force to make arrests, mistreating detainees and holding them indefinitely in a "legal black hole" without any legal safeguards, a report published today says. Having gone to war to combat terrorism and remove the oppressive Taliban regime, the United States is now undermining efforts to restore the rule of law and endangering the lives of civilians, Human Rights Watch says.

Its military forces have repeatedly used deadly force from helicopter gunships and small and heavy arms fire during "what are essentially law-enforcement operations" to arrest suspected criminals in residential areas where there is no military conflict, the report says. "The use of these tactics has resulted in avoidable civilian deaths and injuries, and in individual cases may amount to violations of international humanitarian law."

The report is also sharply crtical of our treatment of those we arrest in Afghanistan:

Human Rights Watch is also concerned about the treatment of those arrested. "The United States is setting a terrible example in Afghanistan on detention practices," said Brad Adams, executive director of the organisation's Asia division.

"Civilians are being held in a legal black hole with no tribunals, no legal counsel, no family visits and no basic legal protections." The US holds detainees at its Bagram, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Asadabad bases, where there have been complaints of their being severely beaten, doused with cold water, forced to stay awake or made to stand or kneel in painful positions for long periods.

"There is compelling evidence suggesting that US personnel have committed acts against detainees amounting to torture or cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment," Mr Adams said.

The full report is available here.

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