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UK Government 'acted unlawfully' in detention of Afghan national

Lawyers go to the High Court to challenge the legality of detention by British Forces of Afghan national

Mr Mohammed claims he claims he was regularly tortured within Lashkar Gar prison and later at Kabul prison

14 January 2014

Lawyers for an Afghan man detained by British forces for four months, before he was handed over to the Afghan authorities, will go to the High Court today (14th January 2014) seeking to establish whether detention operations in Afghanistan by British Forces were conducted lawfully.

Leigh Day, the lawyers for Serdar Mohammed, a married man with two sons, will argue that the UK did not have lawful authority under Afghan or international law to detain Mr Mohammed without trial for four months.

They will argue that Mr Mohammed’s detention was unlawful as it violated Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights and was contrary to Afghan law. Mr Mohammed was detained in April 2010 while he was irrigating his family’s field in Helmand Province.

Four months later he was handed over to the NDS, the Afghan security services, at whose hands he claims he was regularly tortured within Lashkar Gar prison and later at Kabul prison. This torture included being beaten with sticks, cables and pipes for hours at a time and having his testicles twisted.

Following Mr Mohammed's allegations the UK Government placed a moratorium on all transfers of prisoners to the NDS. Mr Mohammed is currently serving 10 years in an Afghan jail after a trial lasting 15 minutes conducted in a language he didn’t understand.

Leigh Day have previously argued that the decision by British Forces to detain Mr Mohammed and transfer him to Lashkar Gah prison was unlawful and in breach of his human rights.

Concerns have also been raised that, under the Government’s proposals for secret courts, such evidence of torture would in future not see the light of day.

Sapna Malik, a partner at Leigh Day and the lawyer representing Mr Mohammed, said: “We understand that British and allied forces face a dangerous and complex situation in Afghanistan.

"However, if Britain undertakes military operations overseas and wishes to detain people in the course of doing so, it needs to obtain proper legal authority for this and afford those it detains basic procedural rights."

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