A human-rights group on Sunday accused US forces in Afghanistan of detaining at least 1,000 Afghans and other people over the past two years in "a climate of almost total impunity" that it contends violates international human-rights law. A spokesman for the US military in Afghanistan disputed the findings. \nIn a 60-page report issued on Sunday, the group, Human Rights Watch, also called on the US military to release the results of investigations into the deaths of three Afghans in US custody in 2002 and last year. Initial military medical investigators declared two of the deaths homicides. \nThe report also said it had received "numerous reports" of US forces relying on faulty intelligence or using "excessive or indiscriminate force" that resulted in avoidable civilian deaths and the detention of innocent people. It contended that the US was employing interrogation techniques, like shackling prisoners, stripping them naked or depriving them of sleep, that the State Department had condemned as torture in countries like Libya, North Korea and Iran. \n"There is little doubt that US policies on the detention of terrorism suspects both in Afghanistan and elsewhere have harmed public opinion of the United States around the world," the report said. "This course of action is shortsighted and damaging to the rule of law, not only in Afghanistan but across the world." \nLieutenant Colonel Bryan Hilferty, a spokesman for the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, said US forces were acting properly. He said the procedures used in the main US detention facility at Bagram Air Base just north of Kabul had been changed. \n"We are in complete compliance with the laws of combat," he said. \nMuch of the report focused on the treatment of detainees in Bagram and other facilities across the country. The International Committee of the Red Cross is the only outside group allowed to visit the facilities and to carry messages between detainees and their families. For the past two years, the US military has refused to release information about the number of detainees it is holding, their nationalities or their names. \nThe report said detainees were in a legal limbo in which they could be held in indefinite secret detention, not formally charged and barred from contact with lawyers and journalists. It said the detainees in Afghanistan, no matter what their rank or role, had been treated as "unlawful combatants" who had far fewer legal rights than prisoners of war. \n"They are held at the apparent whim of US authorities, in some cases for more than a year," the report said. "The general lack of due process with the US detention system violates both international humanitarian law and basic standard of human rights law." \nHilferty said the report did not take into account the fact that combat continues in Afghanistan and that using law enforcement methods was inappropriate. \n"We are engaged in combat operations," Hilferty said. "It's a war."
Henry Tong (湯偉雄) and Elaine To (杜依蘭) were preparing to spend their first wedding anniversary in separate prison cells until their acquittal for rioting during Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. There were gasps and tears of relief in court on Friday last week as a judge declared prosecutors had failed to prove that the couple took part in clashes with police in July last year. The pair walked free in a ruling that has potential consequences for hundreds of other protesters facing similar charges. However, they have a long journey ahead as they try to rebuild their lives and business. “We have already been punished,”
WARNINGS OVER COMPLACENCY: The curves of new infections in numerous countries is climbing, while others see the the first new infections in months Spikes in COVID-19 infections in Asia have dispelled any notion that the region might be over the worst, with Australia and India yesterday reporting record daily infections, Vietnam fretting over a new surge and North Korea urging vigilance. Asian nations had largely prided themselves on rapidly containing initial outbreaks after the coronavirus emerged in central China late last year, but flare-ups this month have shown the danger of complacency. “We’ve got to be careful not to slip into some idea that there’s some golden immunity that Australia has in relation to this virus,” Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters. Australia recorded its
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
The Australian government yesterday said that it plans to give Google and Facebook three months to negotiate with media businesses fair pay for news content. In releasing a draft of a mandatory code of conduct, Canberra aims to succeed where other nations have failed in making tech firms pay for news siphoned from commercial media companies. Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that Google and Facebook would be the first platforms targeted by the proposed legislation, but others could follow. “It’s about a fair go for Australian news media businesses, it’s about ensuring that we have increased competition, increased consumer protection and a sustainable