Karzai demands return of all Afghans held prisoner by the UK in Helmand

President wants inmates transferred to Afghan justice system, though two-week deadline is legally impossible for UK to meet

The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has demanded the return of Afghans held prisoner by the UK military in Helmand, giving London a two-week deadline that is legally impossible for the government to meet.

Last year UK courts banned the government from transferring the prisoners to their own justice system because of widespread torture in Afghan prisons.

This month the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, announced that Kabul and London had agreed safeguards to protect prisoners from torture, and handovers would start after three weeks.

The delay is a requirement to allow for any legal challenges to the decision, and is almost certain to stretch far longer, as lawyers acting for the prisoners have said they will challenge the decision in court.

But Karzai has demanded custody of the prisoners by 22 June. His spokesman said the British legal system should not be used as an excuse to delay the handover.

“We are living in Afghanistan and we are talking about Afghans detained on Afghan soil and held in Afghanistan. According to our laws this is a breach of sovereignty,” Aimal Faizi told the …read more  

From ceremony to therapy: how music could help to heal traumatised troops

Neurologists to look at use of music to aid those suffering from post-conflict trauma

Music is to be prescribed as therapy for soldiers suffering from the physical or mental effects of war, in a new initiative across the armed forces.

The army’s most senior musician, Lieutenant Colonel Bob Meldrum, is taking part in a ground-breaking conference on music and the trauma of war later this month in the City of London. It will look at the potential of music to rehabilitate troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, many suffering post-traumatic stress and physical injuries. Musicians of the Royal Artillery Band and the Band of the Adjutant General’s Corps are among other military personnel attending the two-day conference.

Conference director Ian Ritchie said there was a growing realisation within the forces that military musicians can play a therapeutic role – taking music beyond “the parade ground and raising morale, playing for special occasions and generally being ceremonial and upbeat” to become part of the healing process.

At a recent meeting at the Royal Military School of Music, at Kneller Hall in London, the agenda included “the trauma and the post-traumatic stress that is now the modern-analysed description of shell-shock” and its treatment with …read more