UN: Torture persists in Afghanistan detention centers | News | DW | 25.02.2015

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UN: Torture persists in Afghanistan detention centers

The UN has released a report indicating that around one-third of detainees experienced torture or mistreatment while being held by Afghan security forces. This represents a drop in the number of detainees tortured.

While incidents of detainee torture in Afghanistan have dropped since the last report from January 2013, the problem still persisted, according to a report released Wednesday by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

Of 790 conflict-related detainees interviewed between January 2013 and December 2014, 35 percent were found to have been tortured or mistreated upon arrest or in detention facilities of the Afghan National Directorate of Security, the national police, the local police and the national army. In the previous UNAMA report on detainee torture, nearly 40 percent of those interviewed said they had been tortured or mistreated.

Nicholas Haysom, the head of UNAMA, welcomed the progress made by Afghanistan in fighting torture in detention facilities but added that more remains to be done.

"I welcome the new administration's immediate attention to end these practices," he said in a press release on the UNAMA website.

In response to the report, the Afghan National Security Council said "it is not official government policy to use torture and ill-treat detainees to obtain information and confessions in detention facilities."

Lack of consequences

The government in Afghanistan implemented measures aimed at eliminating torture in detention facilities in 2013. However, UNAMA said that these measures were not taking hold, partially due to a lack of legal repercussions for anyone who engages in torture. The report found just a single instance of criminal prosecution for torture since 2010.

"Continuing impunity for the use of torture allows torture to continue," said UNAMA Human Rights Director Georgette Gagnon. "Accountability - particularly the prosecution of both those who perpetrate and administer torture, and those who order or condone it - is a key means of signaling political commitment at the highest levels to end it."

Of 71 detainees who were apprehended by international military forces or other foreign government agencies, 20 reportedly experienced torture or mistreatment. Some of these instances took place in facilities that had been certified by the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) as being torture-free.

mz/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

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