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UN: Detainees tortured in Afghanistan

2011-10-10 19:03

Kabul - Prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities have been beaten and tortured, a United Nations report said on Monday, but the international organisation said that the mistreatment was not the result of government policy.

The 74-page report found that detainees in 47 facilities in 24 provinces run by the Afghan national police and the directorate of security suffered interrogation techniques that constituted torture under both international and Afghan law.

It said Afghan security ministries co-operated with the investigation and have taken measures to stop the abuse after being presented with the report.

The Nato-led international military coalition, also known as Isaf, announced last month that it had stopped transferring detainees to 16 of the facilities. Nato was taking action to help fix the problem before resuming the transfers, the report said.

Drafted by the UN's Afghan mission, known as Unama, the report was based on interviews of 379 detainees spread around the facilities and conducted from October 2010 to August 2011.

It "found the use of interrogation techniques that constitute torture under international law and crimes under Afghan law, as well as other forms of mistreatment".

The report said torture methods included suspending people by their wrists, beatings to the soles of their feet, electric shocks, twisting detainees' genitals, removing toe nails and being put in stress positions.

Confessions

Unama said that the torture occurred for the purpose of obtaining information and confessions, which it said are often the sole form of evidence submitted in Afghan criminal trials. Judges often find such confessions "both persuasive and conclusive of the defendant's guilt".

Afghan authorities have taken steps to stop the abuse, Unama said.

The authorities "have stated clearly they have an action plan to address these concerns, started investigations, reassigned personnel in the case of the national directorate of security, and have further indicated that responsible individuals will be suspended from their positions and in serious cases, prosecuted," the report said.

The report was issued as part of a UN programme to observe detention facilities.

"Unama's findings indicate that mistreatment is not an institutional or government policy," said Staffan de Mistura, the special representative of the secretary general for Afghanistan.

He added that Afghan government co-operation "suggests that reform is both possible and desired as does the government's announced remedial actions to end these abusive practices".

The European Union also said it welcomed the Afghan government's commitment to stop abuse.