Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday urged Afghanistan [press release] to make meaningful reforms to end the use of torture in government detention centers. HRW called attention to a UN report [text; JURIST report] released last month that more than half of pre-trial detainees being held in Afghanistan were being subjected to torture, saying this report "should sound alarm bells for the Afghan government to take decisive action to end torture." Afghan President Hamid Karzai appointed a commission [NYT report] to look into the findings of the UN report, but he denied that the report accurately portrayed the country's detention centers and the amount of torture that occurs in them. HRW Asia Director Brad Adams, however, said:
This government taskforce is little more than window dressing because it lacks the personnel, expertise and political will to credibly tackle the very serious problem of torture in Afghanistan's detention facilities. Afghanistan needs a fully independent and permanent anti-torture body staffed by experienced human rights advocates with the resources and powers to conduct long-term and consistent monitoring and reform.Karzai created the task force on January 22 and gave it two weeks to look into the allegations and respond.
The UN's January report is not the first to be released detailing findings on human rights abuses by the Afghan government. In October the UN released a report [JURIST report] which showed that nearly half of the 273 detainees interviewed said that they had been subject to torture. A month earlier, HRW released a report showing that the Afghan Local Police had been committing serious rights abuses [JURIST report] and that officers were not being held accountable for these abuses. The UN also released a report in March showing that human rights abuses in Afghanistan were intensifying the issue of poverty [JURIST report] in the country, which affected more than two-thirds of its population.