UN report: abuse, torture of Afghanistan detainees

Prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities are still being beaten and tortured, according to an annual report (PDF) released Jan. 20 by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). UNAMA interviewed 635 conflict-related detainees in detention facilities across Afghanistan, finding that more than half of those interviewed had experienced maltreatment and torture. Fourteen different methods of torture were described, including prolonged and severe beatings with cables, pipes, hoses or wooden sticks, and suspension from the ceiling by the wrists or from chains attached to the wall so that the victim’s toes barely touch the ground or he is completely suspended in the air for lengthy periods. Detainees were also threatened with sexual violence or execution. Torture generally took the form of abusive interrogation techniques by Afghan officials seeking information or a confession:

UNAMA found sufficiently credible and reliable evidence that more than half of 635 detainees interviewed (326 detainees) experienced torture and ill-treatment in numerous facilities of the Afghan National Police (ANP), National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Local Police (ALP) between October 2011 and October 2012. This finding is similar to UNAMA’s findings for October 2010-11 which determined that almost half of the detainees interviewed who had been held in NDS facilities and one third of detainees interviewed who had been held in ANP facilities experienced torture or ill-treatment at the hands of ANP or NDS officials.

UNAMA also noted that while both the NDS and the Ministry of Interior have stated that they investigated allegations of ill-treatment, it is unclear whether any of these internal probes resulted in the prosecution or loss of jobs of Afghan officials for involvement in torturing detainees or for having failed to prevent torture.

UNAMA released the first report on detainee torture in October 2011, detailing findings similar to those in the report released this week. Last month UNAMA released another report detailing the implementation of the Law of Elimination of Violence against Women (PDF) enacted in August 2009, finding that women in Afghanistan still face abuse at the hands of men despite progress in the implementation of a law to protect women’s rights. In November Human Rights Watch urged the Afghan government to institute a moratorium on further executions after eight men were hanged, marking an end of Afghanistan’s four-year virtual moratorium on the death penalty.

From Jurist, Jan. 22. used with permission.