Afghanistan government confirms UN findings of prisoner torture

[JURIST] An Afghan government commission announced Monday that it has confirmed the findings of a report [text, PDF] released last month by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website] that revealed widespread torture and mistreatment of prisoners in facilities across Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai [official website] had ordered the two-week investigation into the country's prisons following the release of the UN report [JURIST report], and Karzai's office acknowledged [Al Jazeera report] Sunday that the commission of inquiry had largely confirmed the UN's findings. UNAMA interviewed 635 conflict-related detainees in detention facilities across Afghanistan, finding that more than half of those interviewed had experienced maltreatment and torture. Afghan commission head Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa stated that 148 of 284 prisoners interviewed by the commission in the provinces of Kabul, Kandahar and Herat complained of torture and mistreatment [AP report]. The panel confirmed 136 of those cases. Adalatkhwa also noted that over 66 percent of interviewed prisoners had no access to defense lawyers, but the commission has made no conclusions or recommendations. Additionally, Adalatkhwa denied that torture and maltreatment of any individual prisoner is ongoing, claiming that such abuses only occur only at the time of arrest and during initial interrogation. The panel also interviewed 23 female detainees and confirmed no allegations of rape or sexual abuse.

Last week Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged Afghanistan to make meaningful reforms to end the use of torture in government detention centers [JURIST report], with HRW citing last month's UNAMA report and condemning Karzai's commission of inquiry. UNAMA released the first report on detainee torture in Afghanistan [JURIST report] in October 2011, detailing findings similar to those in the report released last month. In December UNAMA released another report detailing the implementation of the Law of Elimination of Violence against Women (EVAW law) [text, PDF] enacted in August 2009, finding that women in Afghanistan still face abuse [JURIST report] at the hands of men despite progress in the implementation of a law to protect women's rights. In November HRW urged the Afghan government to institute a moratorium on further executions [JURIST report] after eight men were hanged, marking an end of Afghanistan's four-year virtual moratorium on the death penalty.

 

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