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Ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees declines in Afghan jails: UN

Ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees declines in Afghan jails: UN

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Apr 17, 2019 - 13:46

KABULinfo-icon (Pajhwok): The UN latest report on conflict-related detainees in Afghanistaninfo-icon showed encouraging reduction in the number of cases of torture since 2016, according to a statement on Wednesday.

The report, however, noticed concern at the high number of detainees who continued to report torture and ill-treatment, the UN statement said.

The joint report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the UN Human Rights Office, issued on the first anniversary of Afghanistan’s accession to the Convention against Torture’s Optional Protocol, found that nearly a third of conflict-related detainees interviewed provided credible and reliable accounts of having been subject to torture or ill-treatment.

The report is based on interviewsinfo-icon with 618 detainees held in 77 facilities in 28 provinces across the country between 1 January 2017 and 31 December 2018.

The report acknowledged progress made by the Government in implementing Afghanistan’s National Plan on the Elimination of Torture, and highlights that this enforcement has had tangible results, with a reduction in torture or ill-treatment of conflict-related detainees across different security entities in the country.

Overall, among those in the custody of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, 32 percent based of the sample of the detainees reported torture and ill-treatment, compared to 39 percent over the previous reporting period (1 January 2015 to 31 December 2016). Notably, the reduction was more marked in 2018.

In particular, within facilities of the National Directorate of Security (NDSinfo-icon), the prevalence of torture and ill-treatment of those interviewed decreased from 29 per cent to 19 per cent in 2018. And among conflict-related detainees held by the Afghan National Police (ANP), the proportion of those who reported torture or ill-treatment fell from 45 per cent over the previous reporting period to 31 percent. Youngsters were at a higher risk of suffering mistreatment.

While the reduction in the number of cases is encouraging, the report notes that the “decline in use of torture or ill-treatment is not yet significant enough to indicate that the remedial measures taken are sufficient.” The most common form of torture and ill-treatment reported was beatings. The vast majority of detainees said they had been tortured or ill-treated to force them to confess and that the treatment stopped once they did so.

There are also major differences depending on the location of the detention facilities. While, on average, 31 percent of those ANP facilities reported torture or ill-treatment, the rate in the ANP facility in Kandahar was a very disturbing 77 per cent, including allegations of brutal forms of torture, such as suffocation, electric shocks, pulling of genitals and suspension from ceilings. Allegations of enforced disappearances in Kandahar also persisted during the reporting period.

While the report highlights significant improvements for the NDS facilities in Kandahar and Herat, the treatment of conflict-related detainees in some NDS facilities also remains of concern, particularly those located in Kabul, Khost and Samangan provinces, as well as by the NDS counter-terrorism department. The report also highlights instances of unlawful and arbitrary detention, including following mass arrests, by NDS Special Forces and the Khost Protection Force.

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