PUBLICAI Index: ASA 11/041/2001
UA 311/01 (Corrected)
Risk of extrajudicial execution/ Risk of torture 4 December 2001
AFGHANISTANApproximately 80 prisoners
Amnesty International is concerned for the safety of approximately 80 prisoners
held by the United Front (commonly known as the Northern Alliance) at Shibarghan,
Northern Afghanistan, as they may be at risk of torture or extrajudicial
The prisoners, eighteen of whom are said to be seriously injured, belonged
to Taleban forces who had surrendered to the United Front at the besieged city
of Kunduz, northern Afghanistan. On 25 November, violent fighting, which
reportedly lasted a few days and left hundreds dead, broke out between Taleban
prisoners and United Front guards at Qala-i-Jhangi prison, outside the city
of Mazar-i Sharif.
The circumstances surrounding the fighting inside Qala-i-Jhangi prison remain
unclear, but reports indicate that some prisoners overpowered guards and seized
firearms. United States air strikes were used against the Taleban prisoners
and British and American special forces were also reportedly involved.
Initial reports indicated that all those held at the Qala-i-Jhangi prison had
been killed. However, on 1 December, approximately 80 Taleban prisoners
emerged from the prison’s basement after United Front forces regained control.
Amnesty International has called for an inquiry into the deaths in Qala-i-Jhangi
prison, focusing specifically on what triggered the fighting; any shortcomings
in the holding and processing of the prisoners; as well as the proportionality
of the response by the United Front, United States and United Kingdom forces.
The United Front has stated that it would allow such an inquiry to take place.
The United Kingdom has however rejected such a proposal as has the US-led
coalition in Islamabad.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in
English or your own language:
- expressing grave concern for the safety of the approximately 80 survivors
from Qala-i-Jhangi prison;
- expressing concern at reports that hundreds of prisoners may have been killed
within Qala-i-Jhangi prison, demanding a full and independent investigation
into the killings, and that the findings of such an inquiry be made public;
- calling for immediate steps to be taken to protect detainees held throughout
Afghanistan, urging the authorities to guarantee that none of the detainees
will be tortured or ill-treated, and asking that those injured be granted access
to medical care;
- calling for proper registration of all detainees in military and civilian
The Prime Minister
The Rt. Hon Tony Blair, MP
10 Downing Street