Iran team to probe Afghan torture claims

Iran team to probe Afghan torture claims
Afghan National Army officers stand guard at the site of a blast in Ghazni province, Afghanistan May 18, 2020. (REUTERS)
Short Url
Updated 20 May 2020

Iran team to probe Afghan torture claims

Iran team to probe Afghan torture claims
  • Reports of the incident sparked anger in Kabul, with Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar raising the matter with Iranian officials during a “tense interaction” days later

KABUL: Tehran will set up a team to investigate an incident in which Iranian guards were alleged to have been responsible for the drowning of a group of illegal Afghan migrants earlier this month, a spokesman for Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
“Iranian border officials refuted the findings of the government and will send a high-ranking delegation to the Afghan side for investigation,” Gran Hewad told Arab News, citing the findings of a team of Afghan Border Commissioners who were sent to Iran for an investigation.
The Afghan commissioners have handed over the investigation to diplomatic authorities based on a bilateral border agreement, he added.
“The Iranian authorities have informed Afghanistan Embassy in Tehran that they, too, have appointed a diplomatic team to address the matter further,” Hewad said.
As part of a move to draw global attention to the alleged incident which took place on May 1, several Afghans on Monday gathered outside the UN compound in the western city of Herat, which lies near the border with Iran and is home to most of the 46 migrants.
“We staged the rally because this incident was the most brutal of all and the world must take this matter seriously,” Hamid Rasa, one of the participants told Arab News by phone from Herat.
Rasa, along with several others, urged the UN to investigate the incident, with locals saying the migrants had crossed into Iran at night, and were detained, tortured and forced at gunpoint to jump into a river the next day. The Harirud River, where the alleged incident took place, forms the border between the two countries.
“Out of the 46 people involved, 13 drowned, 14 are still missing and 19 managed to survive,” Hewad said.

FASTFACTS

• Tehran blamed for torture of 46 illegal migrants.

• Iran team to probe Afghan drowning incident.

Afghan border commissioners interviewed villagers, survivors and the victims’ next of kin before sharing the evidence with their Iranian counterparts, “who rejected the findings,” he said.
Reports of the incident sparked anger in Kabul, with Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar raising the matter with Iranian officials during a “tense interaction” days later.
In recent years, Iran and Afghanistan have had uneasy ties, with Kabul complaining that Tehran uses Afghan Shiite migrants to fight its proxy wars in the Middle East, as well as providing cash and arms to Taliban insurgents fighting the Afghan government and US-led troops in Afghanistan.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 23 January 2021

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.