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Afghanistan: Detainees systematically tortured

last updated Oct 12, 2011

Security forces have systematically tortured detainees in 47 detention facilities in Afghanistan, according to a report released by the United Nations. In many cases, suspected Taliban fighters have been subjected to beatings, electric shocks and other forms of torture in prisons run by Afghan authorities.

Afghan National Police (ANP)
Afghan National Police (ANP); Source: Petty Officer 2nd Class John R. Fischer

The report, based on interviews with 379 random detainees from October 2010 to August 2011, discloses cruel methods of torture during interrogations to obtain information or confessions which are often the sole form of evidence submitted in trials. Despite the large number of incidents documented, it is emphasised that the mistreatment is not institutional or a government policy. The UN says that the government has launched investigations after the publication of the report and has taken measures to stop the abuses indicated in the report.

The United States of America spent billions of dollars throughout the last years for trainings of the police and the security services. The fact that Afghan security forces have been involved in the torture of detainees might have consequences for the US. It could, for instance, endanger American funding to some of the security services. A 1997 law prohibits the US from providing funding, weapons or trainings if there were suspicions of gross human rights violations in the respective unit. The US could, however, argue that the spending is done in order to solve the problem which would not allow the application of the law.

Already last month the NATO stopped the transfer of detainees to several detention facilities in Afghanistan. The European Union welcomed the willingness of the government to halt abuse.

UNAMA report: Mistreatment of conflict-related detainees in Afghan facilities

NY Times: Afghan Detainees Tortured, U.N. Says

Guardian: Afghanistan officials 'systematically tortured' detainees, says UN report

Afghanistan country profile