December 15th, 2009
10:02 AM ET

Taliban allows Red Cross to visit detainees for 1st time

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) - For the first time, the Taliban has allowed Red Cross workers to check the conditions of its detainees in Afghanistan.

The International Committee of the Red Cross announced today that its team recently visited three Afghan security forces being held by the Taliban in the northwestern province of Badghis. A small Red Cross team visited the detained Afghan security forces twice in late November, the agency said.

The ICRC says it regularly visits detained people in conflict zones to assess their conditions and treatment, including 136 places of detention in Afghanistan. But last month's visit marked the first time the Taliban allowed the agency access to its detainees since the start of the current conflict in Afghanistan.

"We plan to conduct and repeat visits in other regions, and hope to visit people held by other armed opposition groups, with the aim of ensuring that everyone detained in relation to the armed conflict is treated humanely," said Reto Stocker, head of the ICRC's delegation in Kabul.

The Red Cross did not release information on the detainees' conditions or when they were seized by the Taliban "to protect their identity," ICRC spokesman Simon Schorno told CNN.

The Red Cross will not inform the Afghan government of the captured forces' condition as a matter of standard policy, he said.

"When we carry out visits and submit reports ... this is done only with the detaining authority, which is the Taliban," Schorno said. He noted that the same policy was carried out during Red Cross visits to detainees at the U.S. military's facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

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Filed under: Daily Developments • Taliban
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