Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

UN report condemns detainee torture

The US warns Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners (AP)
The US warns Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners (AP)

The United Nations says Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners, such as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, a year after the UN first documented the abuse and the government in Kabul promised detention reform.

The report shows little progress in curbing abuse in Afghan prisons despite a year of effort by the UN and international military forces in Afghanistan. The report also cites instances where Afghan authorities have tried to hide mistreatment from UN monitors.

The slow progress on prison reform has prompted Nato forces to once again stop many transfers of detainees to Afghan authorities out of concern that they would be tortured.

In multiple detention centres, Afghan authorities leave detainees hanging from the ceiling by their wrists, beat them with cables and wooden sticks, administer electric shocks, twist their genitals and threaten to kill them, the report said.

In a letter responding to the latest report, the Afghan government said its internal monitoring committee found "the allegations of torture of detainees were untrue and thus disproved".

The Afghan government said it would not completely rule out the possibility of torture at its detention facilities, but that it was nowhere near the levels described in the report and it was checking on reports of abuse.

The findings, however, highlight the type of human rights abuses that many activists worry could become more prevalent in Afghanistan as international forces draw down and the country's Western allies become less watchful over a government that so far has taken few concrete actions to reform the system.

As one detainee in the western province of Farah told the UN team: "They laid me on the ground. One of them sat on my feet and another one sat on my head, and the third one took a pipe and started beating me with it. They were beating me for some time like one hour and were frequently telling me that, 'You are with Taliban and this is what you deserve'."

More than half of the 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured, according to the report titled Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On. That is about the same ratio the UN found in its first report in 2011.

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