Torture use by Afghan officials on the rise: UN

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Torture use by Afghan officials on the rise: UN

Kabul (AFP) – Afghan security officials are increasingly employing torture to extract confessions from alleged insurgents, including children, according to a UN report issued Monday that urged Kabul to bring more perpetrators to justice.

The most commonly identified forms of abuse included severe beatings to the body and soles of the feet, electric shocks to the genitals, as well as stress positions, sleep deprivation and threats of execution.

Of the 469 detainees interviewed for the report by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), 39 percent “gave credible and reliable accounts of having experienced torture or other forms of inhuman or degrading treatment”, up from 35 percent in a similar UN study conducted a year earlier.

The primary purpose of torture was to extract confessions to crimes, the report said.

“Many of those interviewed stated that they did not understand or could not read what was written on the ‘confession’ which they signed or thumb-printed,” it said.

It singled out the Afghan National Police as an offender, noting that torture cases linked to the force had been steadily rising since monitoring began in 2010.

Of the 85 child detainees interviewed, 38 reported “credible accounts” of being subjected to torture or mistreatment.

“Torture does not work – it is an unreliable and ineffective tool for gathering accurate information. Notwithstanding the destructive nature of such practices on long term stability, torture is illegal, immoral and wrong,” the report said.

The UN said Kabul had taken some legal steps towards reducing the phenomenon, including a “National Plan on the Elimination of Torture”. 

The government also provided UN officials with a list of four cases of officers who are being prosecuted in connection with torture, though the “current status of the cases is unclear” and the government could not provide information on any successful prosecution.

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at a checkpoint in Kabul on June 12, 2014
Copyright AFP/File SHAH MARAI

 

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