Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Language and Conflict In the News: Afghan Prisons

The US has built, and trained the staff for, a new wing at prison in Afghanistan.  Compared to other Afghan prisons, it is a step up.  Importantly, and unrelated to the walls, but directly related to the US training... no torture allegations. Took almost seven years to get there.

The trials are happening, but they are pretty bad.  Well, at least some of the worst trials are being appealed.  However, the trials have one feature which I often talk about in Language & Conflict.  From Counter Punch:
Hearsay -- as in, "the Americans said ... " -- is reported to make up a good part of the prosecutors' cases. And while the prosecutors and judges generally speak Dari, the language of Afghanistan's Tajik population, the Pashtun-speaking defendants may not understand what is being said, and may not have the benefit of translation.

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