Allegations by detainees of torture in Afghan detention facilities continue at high rates with the procedural rights of those detained largely ignored, a UN report said Wednesday.
Torture and ill-treatment persist in the facilities of government agencies in Afghanistan, although UNAMA recorded a three per cent reduction in allegations compared to the previous monitoring period.
“Torture can never be justified. It has lasting consequences for victims, their families and society,” said Deborah Lyons, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan. “I recognize the efforts made by some Government Ministries and Institutions, but much more needs to be done to bring this practice to an end. In particular, perpetrators must be held accountable. This would increase confidence in the rule of law and can be a contributing factor towards peace,” said the envoy, who is also head of UNAMA.
The report is based is based on interviews with 656 detainees, including 565 men, 6 women, 82 boys and 3 girls, in 63 detention facilities in 24 provinces across Afghanistan.
The percentage of credible allegations of incidents of torture and ill-treatment committed by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) was recorded at 30.3 per cent, down from 31.9 percent for 2017-2018.
Allegations of torture in Afghan National Police (ANP) custody was 27.2 per cent, a decrease from the previously recorded 31.2 per cent.
Allegations of torture in National Directorate of Security (NDS) custody decreased from 19.4 to 16 percent.
The report highlights the important role played by internal mechanisms in preventing torture, especially NDS human rights officers visiting places of detention. Similarly, the efforts to prosecute the crime of torture under the 2018 Penal Code by the Anti-Torture Committee of the Attorney General’s Office are underscored.
The report said that it remains a matter of serious concern that more than 30 per cent of all interviewees provided credible and reliable reports of torture and ill-treatment.
Some sharp regional differences are noted in the number of allegations made by detainees. There was a particularly high number of allegations of torture and ill-treatment concerning the ANP in Kandahar, with 57.7 per cent of complaints. The report also noted the disturbing reports of enforced disappearances allegedly linked to the ANP in Kandahar.
Among further concerns are that nearly half of all persons detained by the ANP and NDS assert that they were asked to sign or thumbprint a document without knowing its content. The report expresses particular concern with the practice of solitary and incommunicado detention in NDS custody.
UNAMA recommended the creation of an independent national preventive mechanism on torture described in the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.