Afghanistan: government denies UN torture allegations

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs and the National Directorate of Security (NDS) on Oct. 11 denied prisoner torture allegations made earlier this week in a UN report. A spokesperson for the Ministry said at a press conference that there was no basis for the report’s findings and that publicizing such information could hurt the people’s trust in the police. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) one day earlier released a report alleging that prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities have been beaten and tortured. The prisoners interviewed for the study had been detained by the NDS or Afghan National Police (ANP) forces for national security crimes. Nearly half of the 273 detainees interviewed reported that they had undergone interrogation that amounted to torture. UNAMA also alleged that NDS and ANP officials committed due process violations and arbitrarily detained arrestees but did acknowledge that the abuse was not the result of official government policy.

Afghanistan has received much criticism for its human rights record. Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in September that the Afghan Local Police (ALP) force is committing serious abuses, and the Afghan government is doing little to hold the officials accountable. Corruption, abuse of power and a focus on short-term security goals in Afghanistan have intensified the issue of poverty affecting more than two-thirds of the population, according to a March 2010 report from the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Earlier that same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay delivered a report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that said Afghanistan’s human rights progress has been thwarted by armed conflict, censorship, abuse of power and violence against women.

From Jurist, Oct. 12. Used with permission.

See our last post on Afghanistan