I posted some articles here last week about a Canadian political controversy regarding the treatment of Afghan detainees handed over to the Afghan authorities. This week the British MOD reported on how the British military is taking steps to improve conditions for Afghan detainees. The first piece from the British Ministry of Defence describes a joint project with Afghan police in Helmand province to open a new detention facility:

British soldiers help open new Helmand prison
14 Oct 09

British soldiers mentoring Afghan police officers have helped open a new £1.3m prison in Lashkar Gah this week which will dramatically improve security and conditions for prisoners in Helmand.

The new prison facility will house inmates in cells for the first time
[Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

For decades, Helmand has had to make do with a prison that was little more than a squalid village-like compound, surrounded by a high wall and watch towers.

There were no facilities for inmates, except a well, and the prison guards only ventured inside once a day to deliver food. Petty thieves lived among murderers and Taliban prisoners, policing themselves.

But conditions have been turned around with the opening of the new prison which has security features and facilities that meet international standards.

Read the whole story here.

Last month the NYT reported that the US was preparing to issue guidelines improving conditions for Afghan detainees at the US prison in Bagram. Here is a bried excerpt:

“Some of the changes in the American detention policies are already under way. The Pentagon is closing the decrepit Bagram prison and replacing it this fall with a new 40-acre complex that officials say will be more modern and humane. In a recent policy reversal, the military for the first time is notifying the International Committee of the Red Cross of the identities of militants who were being held in secret at a camp in Iraq and another in Afghanistan run by United States Special Operations forces.

The Bagram prison has become an ominous symbol for Afghans — a place where harsh interrogation methods and sleep deprivation were used routinely in its early years, and where two Afghan detainees died in 2002 after being beaten by American soldiers and hung by their arms from the ceilings of isolation cells. Bagram also became a holding site for terrorism suspects captured outside Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Read the whole NYT piece here.