News / Asia

Afghan Officials Admit Torturing Detainees

An Afghan police officer stands guard in front of a truck carrying Afghan prisoners on their way to court in Herat, western Afghanistan, August 16, 2009.
An Afghan police officer stands guard in front of a truck carrying Afghan prisoners on their way to court in Herat, western Afghanistan, August 16, 2009.
Sharon Behn
An Afghan presidential investigative commission has confirmed that Afghan police and security officials are torturing detainees, despite promises of reform. But the head of the commission denies statements by the United Nations that torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Afghan detention centers.

Commission head Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa acknowledges that almost half of the people they interviewed said they had been tortured and even more said they had no access to defense lawyers. He says members of the delegation confirm the existence of torture, mistreatment, beatings and threats that occurred mostly during the arrest of detainees or during interrogations.

But Adalatkhwa says his commission's two-week fact-finding mission did not find evidence to support a recent U.N. report saying there were systematic, widespread abuses of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody.

The U.N. report, released in January, concluded that torture was an institutional policy or practice and not just used by a few individuals in isolated cases.

It says U.N. interviewers had seen injuries, marks and scars consistent with torture and ill-treatment, including prolonged beatings, electric shocks and hangings by the wrists.

Georgette Gagnon, one of the authors of the U.N. report, says the findings of the presidential commission represented the first recognition of torture in Afghan detention facilities.

"Admitting there is a very serious problem is a very good first step," Gagnon noted. "But the next step is action and, in our view, prosecution of officials who are committing torture."

The U.N. report also says of the 105 child detainees they interviewed, 80 of them had experienced torture or ill-treatment.

During the one-year period that the United Nations conducted its investigations, it noted a decrease in the number of allegations of torture in National Directorate of Security facilities during the period. That was a period when there were fewer transfers from international military forces and increased monitoring by those same forces. But once International Security Forces in Afghanistan resumed transfers and reduced monitoring, there was an increase in torture incidents.

Gagnon says human rights advocates are concerned this kind of oversight and pressure will be cut back once international forces leave in 2014.

"There are concerns, certainly among Afghan communities, Afghan legal aid lawyers, Afghan women, Afghan NGOs [non-governmental organizations], also officials within the Afghan government, that without sustained international support, the gains made certainly on human rights will either diminish or certainly not be advanced," she said.

President Hamid Karzai is to discuss the commission's findings with the judiciary board, his top legal advisory body, Wednesday.

The United Nations says its investigation covered a one-year period from 2011 to 2012 and was based on multiple interviews of officials and detainees in 89 facilities across 30 provinces.

You May Like

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid