Torture continues in Afghan prisons, UN report says

Allegations of torture made by detainees in Afghan detention facilities continue at a high rate, the UN mission in the country said in its report on Wednesday.

“It remains a matter of serious concern that more than 30 per cent of all interviewees provided credible and reliable reports of torture and ill-treatment,” said the report jointly released by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and the Geneva-headquartered UN Human Rights Office.

The UN bodies documented 335 instances of detention of persons deprived of liberty for security or terrorism-related offences in police custody.

“In 92 of these instances of detention (27.5 per cent), detainees gave sufficiently credible and reliable accounts of having experienced torture or other forms of ill-treatment,” the report said.

Deborah Lyons, the UN secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan, demanded that perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment must be held accountable.

“This would increase confidence in the rule of law and can be a contributing factor towards peace,” Lyons said.

The findings are based on interviews with 656 detainees, including 565 men, six women, 82 boys and three girls, in 63 detention facilities in 24 provinces across Afghanistan.

The report looks only at government facilities and not those of the Taliban or other anti-government elements, due to lack of access.

Commenting on the report, the deputy head of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission said efforts have been expedited to train and sensitize the security and defense forces in this regard.

He said overall cases of torture and ill-treatment in prison have dropped compared to the past years, and training of prison staff as well as amendments in legal provisions are underway to further improve the situation.

Meanwhile, Patricia Grossman, associate Asia director for Human Rights Watch, told Anadolu Agency what the UN has reported about the continuing patterns of torture shows that the Afghan government has not taken serious steps to eradicate torture.

“The ICC [International Criminal Court] should take notice of this and the government’s utter failure to hold those most responsible for torture accountable,” she said. AA

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