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Torture persists in Afghan prisons: UN

Torture persists in Afghan prisons: UN

Jan 20, 2013 - 23:37

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The United Nations mission in Afghanistaninfo-icon, calling prisoner abuse a serious concern, on Sunday alleged that rampant torture persisted in numerous Afghan-run detention facilities across the country.

UNAMA said in a report the assessment was based on interviewsinfo-icon with 635 conflict-related detainees held by Afghan police, intelligence, army and local police during visits to 89 detention centres in 30 provinces.

In response to UN concerns, the Afghan government said it had instituted a range of measures to improve detention practices. The NDSinfo-icon and the Ministry of Interior said they had implemented training programmes on prevention of detainee ill-treatment, issued policy directives and increased inspections.

Last year, the spy service created a sub-directorate of human rights that reports to the NDS director and the Ministry of Interior, reinforcing human rights offices within the ANP. Both institutions investigated allegations of ill-treatment.

The government said its internal monitoring committee found "the allegations of torture were untrue and thus disproved." While not completely ruling out the possibility of torture at its detention facilities, the authorities insisted ill-treating inmates was government policy.

In the 139-page report -- Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On -- the mission said the prisoners were interviewed from October 2011 to October 2012.

More than half -- 326 -- detainees suffered ill-treatment and torture, particularly in 34 facilities of the Afghan National Police (ANP) and the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Interrogators inflicted severe pain on detainees to obtaining a confession or information, the report claimed, saying the incidence of torture in ANP facilities increased, with 125 of the 286 prisoners -- or 43 per cent – experiencing ill-treatment compared with 35 per cent in the previous year.

On the other hand, inmates in NDS custody experienced torture and ill-treatment at a rate that fell to 34 percent last year from 46 percent in 2011.

Detainees were hung by their wrists and beaten with cables, said the document, which also cited instances where Afghan authorities had tried to hide mistreatment from UN monitors.

"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...” one prisoner was quoted as saying.

Ján Kubiš, the special representative of the secretary-general and UNAMA chief, described the findings a cause for serious concern. He said the government’s system was not robust enough to eliminate ill-treatment of detainees.

Georgette Gagnon, human rights director for the mission, said: "UNAMA found a persistent lack of accountability for perpetrators of torture with few investigations and no prosecutions for those responsible.”

The findings highlight that torture could not be addressed by training, inspections and directives alone but required sound accountability measures to stop its use, Gagnon remarked.

Based on fresh reports of torture at several NDS and ANP facilities, ISAFinfo-icon suspended prisoner transfers for a second time in October 2012. The force implemented a process limiting transfers to a reduced number of facilities.



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