The US military is mistreating detainees — and violating its own rules — at a secret prison in Afghanistan, a US think tank said Friday in a report.
The 16-page report by the Open Society Foundation said Afghans call the secret site “Tor Jail,” or “Black Jail,” and that consistent accounts from detainees refer to being kept without adequate shelter or food or other basic rights.
The Pentagon quickly rejected abuses, but said it was looking into the allegations.
“The Department of Defense does not operate any ‘secret prisons,'” a spokesman said.
Any classified “temporary screening/detention facilities” operate under international regulations and are known to the International Committee of the Red Cross, the spokesman said.
However, the spokesman said officials had “received the report from (Open Society) and are reviewing it.”
The report from Open Society, which is financed by US billionaire George Soros, said the allegedly secret facility was on Bagram Air Base, outside Kabul, but was not the same as the already well documented Bagram detention facility.
“Detainees state that they were held in excessively cold isolation cells; supplied inappropriate or inadequate food, bedding, and blanketing; denied exposure to natural light; unable to carry out their religious duties; restricted from exercise; and kept from meeting with the International Committee of the Red Cross,” Open Society said.
It said that some detainees claimed to have been held there as recently as this year.
“The allegations about Tor Jail should be taken seriously by the Obama administration, which has sought to reform detention practices in Afghanistan,” said Jonathan Horowitz, author of the report.
The Pentagon said it always treated prisoners “humanely.”
“The United States requires that all DOD detention operations meet a high standard of humane care and custody,” the spokesman said.
The US military has been under the scrutiny of rights groups for years after revelations of abuse at prisons in Iraq and at CIA “black sites,” and in the light of controversy over the military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Copyright © 2010 AFP