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Prison torture

September 7, 2011

An unpublished UN report says Afghan police and intelligence services routinely torture suspected insurgents at prison facilities. NATO has halted all detainee transfers pending the report's verification.

Two police officers outside of an Afghan prison
Widespread torture by Afghan police is suspectedImage: AP

NATO has suspended transfers of detainees to prisons in Afghanistan after information leaked from a United Nations report indicated widespread torture allegations at Afghan detention facilities.

According to the BBC, who first reported on the allegations made in the UN report, facilities run by Afghan police and intelligence services have a history of regularly beating detainees.

An official speaking with the BBC said NATO will investigate the claims made in the UN report and has suspended detainee transfers for the time being as a "prudent" measure.

Systematic beatings

The spokesperson for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), Dan McNorton, said the UN had already handed over the report to the government of Afghanistan, which is taking the matter "very seriously."

"Our findings indicate that the mistreatment of detainees is not an institutional or government policy of the government of Afghanistan," McNorton was quoted by the BBC as saying.

The UN's report indicates many of the detainees who were tortured were suspected insurgents, some of whom had been handed over by NATO troops. In some cases, the detainees were held without charge.

In addition to systematic beatings, prisoners were also threatened with sexual assault.

The torture claims were "strongly rejected" by Afghanistan's Interior Minister Bismillah Mohammadi at a specially convened press conference.

Speaking alongside Mohammadi, Rahmatullah Nabil, the head of the Afghan intelligence service, said his agency had never tortured prisoners. He suggested the leak was politically motivated, coming at a time when Afghan forces and officials begin to take more responsibility for the country.

Troops participating in NATO's ISAF mission in Afghanistan are scheduled to be withdrawn in the next few years as security responsibilities are handed over to Afghan forces.

Author: Matt Zuvela, Catherine Bolsover (DPA, AP, AFP)
Editor: Martin Kuebler