The government is seeking to lift a moratorium on handing over Afghan detainees to prisons where there is clear evidence of torture, legal action charity Reprieve claimed today.
Lawyers for Serdar Mohamed, who was tortured by the Afghan security services (NDS) after being transferred to their custody by British forces in 2010, told the High Court that the government possesses evidence that torture takes place in the prison to which he was sent.
They allege that the government has sought to suppress evidence of torture and said it is "shocking" that the Secretary of State for Defence is attempting to lift the moratorium, which was put in place after Mr Mohamed's case first came to light.
Mr Mohamed's transfer came one month after a previous legal challenge in June 2010, brought by peace campaigner Maya Evans, which led to a ruling that such transfers would be lawful if subject to the observance of specific safeguards.
He was handed over to the Afghans after this ruling and was subsequently tortured in Lashkar Gar prison and, apparently without Britain's knowledge, transferred to Kabul prison where he has suffered further abuse.
After being tortured, Mr Mohamed was visited by a British monitoring team who took photographs of his injuries.
His allegations led to the British government placing a moratorium on all transfers of prisoners to the NDS.
Yet now it is seeking to lift that moratorium.
The High Court heard that Minister for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Baroness Warsi failed to question assurances by the head of the NDS that detainees would not be tortured, despite evidence to the contrary.
The court also heard that British officials on a trip in 2011 failed to ask for an explanation for the presence of an electric flex in an interview between a NDS interrogator and a prisoner, "for fear of causing a scene."
Reprieve legal director Kat Craig said: "It is shocking that the government is trying to lift a ban on transfers to the Afghan security services with one hand, while covering up evidence of torture with the other.
"For now, they have not succeeded, but should plans for secret courts pass Parliament this will become child's play. Our parliamentarians must stand firm against plans to do away with centuries-old traditions of open and equal justice."
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