[JURIST] Two more Afghan detainees have died while in US custody, and the US failed to properly investigate a third death this fall, Human Rights Watch charged Monday in an open letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. According to HRW's report, detainee deaths in 2002 and 2003 went unreported, and the agency claimed the US was stalling on launching investigations. The group also questioned the circumstances of a more recent death on Sept. 24, 2004. In the letter to Rumsfeld, the group wrote:
Six detainees are now known to have died in U.S. custody in Afghanistanincluding four known cases of murder or manslaughterand former detainees have made scores of other claims of torture and other mistreatment. Some of the cases took place over two years ago. Yet to our knowledge, the U.S. government has conducted only a handful of criminal investigations, and has charged only two people with any crime in these cases. The governments failure to hold its personnel accountable for serious abuses has spawned a culture of impunity among some personnel. And as you know, some of the personnel involved in earlier abuses in Afghanistan have now been implicated in later abuses in Iraq.Read the full letter. Read the group's full report on abuses by US forces in Afghanistan. An HRW press release is available. The Army Criminal Investigative Command most recently reported in October that it had recommended prosecution of 28 soldiers in connection with deaths at Bagram airbase in Aghanistan. Reuters has more.