Afghan prisoner abuse case fails

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An anti-war campaigner lost her case to stop the transfer of prisoners taken by British forces to authorities in Afghanistan.

However, High Court judges stressed that a moratorium already agreed by Britain on transfers to the National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility in Kabul had to remain in place, since there was a real risk detainees may be subjected to abuse.

Maya Evans, who was arrested for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq during a protest at the Cenotaph in London, and her legal team insisted that they had won a "partial victory". However, Phil Shiner, of the Birmingham firm Public Interest Lawyers said an appeal will be launched against the court decision.

The judges said the transfer of suspects to NDS facilities in Kandahar and Lashkar Gar, the provincial capital of Helmand, should be allowed provided existing safeguards are "strengthened by observance of specified conditions". They added that these safeguards must include the right of British monitors to get access to the detainees regularly.

Lawyers representing Ms Evans had claimed that detainees taken to the NDS had suffered beatings, electric shocks and sleep deprivation, and had been forced into stress positions and whipped with rubber cables.

Ms Evans said after the ruling: "We are really pleased that there has been change in policy as a result of this case and that the court has said that there is a serious risk of torture and mistreatment."

The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, said: "There is no place for the abuse of detainees. We have always recognised that this is a difficult and challenging area in which our people have to operate, and that is why we have specific safeguards and monitoring arrangements in place. These will be reinforced in line with the court's recommendations."