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 Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid