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UN Condemns Ongoing Torture of Detainees in Afghanistan

  • Lisa Schlein

FILE - Recaptured Afghan prisoners walk in leg chains in jail in Kandahar, Afghanistan, April 26, 2011.

A new U.N. report finds torture continues to be widespread in Afghan detention centers, despite the government’s stated commitment to eliminate the practice. The report is being jointly issued by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and the U.N. Human Rights Office.

The report spans a two-year period between January 2015 and December 2016. U.N. monitors interviewed 469 conflict-related detainees in 62 detention facilities administered by Afghan security forces and national police.

U.N. human rights spokeswoman, Liz Throssel, tells VOA more than one-third of the detainees gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment.

“The majority of the people who were spoken to said that they were tortured in order to make them confess, and that once they had given a confession and had signed it or given their thumb print to the confession, the torture and ill-treatment stopped. And, what they said was that in many cases they did not understand or they could not read what was written on their supposed confession,” she said.

Among those interviewed were 85 children. The report says 38 gave credible accounts of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment while in the custody of the Afghan security forces.

Throssell says torture meted out to the detainees include beatings with sticks or plastic cables, electric shocks, suffocation, water boarding, sexual assaults and threats of execution.

“What we are stressing in our report, as with previous reports, is that torture does not enhance security," she said. "Confessions produced as a result of torture are often totally unreliable because people will say anything to stop the pain, the pain of being beaten, electrocuted, suffocated.”

The United Nations is calling for proper monitoring of detention facilities and for those accused of torture to be brought to trial and held accountable for their crime.

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