3 Jun 2013

Australian military refusing to hand over prisoners

12:19 pm on 3 June 2013

The Australian military is refusing to hand over prisoners in Afghanistan, because domestic security agencies are accused of abusing detainees.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced the suspension of prisoner handovers during a visit to Australia's main base in Uruzgan on Sunday.

The ABC reports the move came after accusations that members of Afghanistan's spy agency mistreated a prisoner who had been handed to them by Australian forces.

It means Australian troops will not hand back Afghan detainees until it is proved they will be safe.

Recently British forces admitted they have been holding detainees for as long as a year because of concerns they would be tortured if they were handed over to the Afghans.

The ABC reports that exact details of the accusations regarding the prisoner who had been held by Australian forces are not known.

Mr Smith said officers from Afghanistan's spy agency have been arrested and are facing charges.

The ABC reports normal regulations require detainees to be handed over after 96 hours, but the Australian Defence Force will not reveal the length of time it has held detainees at its Tarin Kot base.

The base is being dismantled and Australian troops will leave Uruzgan by the end of the year.