UN Says Detainees Tortured in Afghan Jails

Posted October 10th, 2011 at 11:10 am (UTC-5)
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The United Nations says Afghan authorities have been “systematically” torturing detainees in Afghan jails, including those under the age of 18.

UNAMA surveyed 379 pre-trial detainees and prisoners at 47 facilities run by the Afghan National Police (ANP) and by the country’s intelligence agency — the National Directorate of Security (NDS) — in 22 provinces.

In a report released Monday, the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said it found almost half of the detainees in NDS custody who were interviewed had experienced torture, as defined under international law. UNAMA says torture is practiced systematically at a number of NDS facilities.

More than a third of the detainees in Afghan police detention who were interviewed had also experienced treatment that amounted to torture.

The study found that, in many cases, Afghan authorities used torture to obtain confessions and information from suspects. In some cases, detainees were beaten, shocked and placed in stress positions.

The United Nations’ special representative to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, said UNAMA’s findings indicate that mistreatment is not an institutional or government policy. He said the fact that the Afghan National Police and the country’s intelligence agency cooperated with the study shows that reform is possible.

UNAMA says Afghan authorities have launched their own investigations into the findings and initiated remedial action to address the concerns. Afghan officials have further indicated that those responsible for torturing and mistreating individuals will be suspended and, in serious cases, prosecuted.

Last month, the NATO-led force in Afghanistan stopped transferring detainees to 16 Afghan facilities where UNAMA found evidence of torture and mistreatment by police and security officials.

The coalition said Monday that it supports all initiatives to ensure that detainees are treated humanely and their human rights are respected. NATO says it is working with the Afghan government to resolve “this serious matter” and establish safeguards to prevent future mistreatment.

Afghanistan’s Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi and intelligence chief Rahmatullah Nabil have rejected the allegations and questioned the timing of the decision.

International forces are in the process of handing over security responsibility to Afghanistan’s army and police, which is set to be completed by the end of 2014.