Torture still persists in Afghan prisons, says UN

Torture still persists in Afghan prisons, says UN

KABUL - Reuters
Torture still persists in Afghan prisons, says UN

Afghan police escort prisoners following their release in Herat, Afghanistan. EPA photo

Almost a third of all detainees recently transferred to Afghan control have been tortured and Afghanistan’s spy agency is operating secret facilities to avoid international scrutiny, a United Nations report released Jan. 20 said.

The findings could complicate the already thorny issue of how to manage the security transition ahead of the withdrawal of NATO-led troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Hundreds of detainees are being transferred from NATO to Afghan control as part of that transition.

Based on interviews with hundreds of detainees between October 2011 and October 2012, the 139-page report found “credible and reliable evidence” that more than half of those interviewed experienced torture or abuse.

Of the 79 detainees interviewed who were transferred from NATO to Afghan control during the 12 months, 25 were tortured, a rise of seven percent over the previous year’s report.

Fourteen methods of torture

The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) interviewed 635 conflict-related detainees held at 89 facilities across Afghanistan by Afghan security forces and the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

The report outlines a harrowing list of fourteen methods of torture, including beatings with pipes and wooden sticks, twisting of genitals, extracting fingernails, electric shocks and threats of execution and rape. The report also includes a statement by an unnamed NDS official in Kabul who confirmed the agency’s use of torture and secret facilities for detainees. “NDS has several secret places in which they detain and torture people,” the official said. The official said NDS intentionally moved tortured prisoners to their headquarters in Kabul to evade outside scrutiny.

Taliban attacks police HQ

KABUL - Reuters

Suicide bombers and gunmen launched an eight-hour assault on the headquarters of the Kabul traffic police yesterday, Afghan officials said, in the second coordinated attack on a government building in less than a week.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the operation In which all five attackers and three traffic police officers were killed, Interior Ministry officials said.

Violence across the country has been increasing over the last 12 months, sparking concern about how the 350,000-strong Afghan security forces will be able to manage once foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014.