Afghanistan urged to act on UN torture report

Kabul, Feb 3 (IANS) The Afghan government should urgently adopt meaningful steps to end the widespread use of torture in government detention centres, Human Rights Watch said Sunday.

A Jan 20 UN report found that more than half of 635 pre-trial detainees and prisoners convicted on national security grounds had been tortured or ill-treated while in Afghan government custody.

The Afghan government dismissed as "exaggerated" the findings of the UN report which concluded that government reforms - including better monitoring and training but no dismissals or prosecutions - had not significantly reduced torture.

Instead, officials who engage in torture benefit from complete impunity from prosecution.

On Jan 22, President Hamid Karzai ordered an investigation to determine whether there were abuses in detention and identify perpetrators.

"The new UN report should sound alarm bells for the Afghan government to take decisive action to end torture," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

"President Karzai needs to deliver on his recent promise to identify perpetrators of torture and to make sure those responsible are immediately arrested and prosecuted."

The January report follows up an October 2011 UN report documenting systematic and widespread torture in Afghan detention centres.

Torture of prisoners in Afghan government custody has been regularly documented over the past decade, including by the Afghan government's independent human rights commission as well as by Human Rights Watch and other NGOs.

In his Jan 22 order, Karzai created a task force to investigate the report's findings and respond within two weeks "so that follow-up measures can be taken".

Unfortunately, Human Rights Watch said, the task force consisted almost entirely of Afghan government officials who have little or no human rights expertise, and includes representatives of the state agencies with the worst records on torture.

"This government task force 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," Adams said.

"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."

The UN report found that torture was most common in detention facilities run by Afghanistan's intelligence service and police.

Since the 2011 report, abuses in police custody have actually increased, while there was some reduction in intelligence service abuses.

A quarter of torture victims were children. Almost a third of the 79 interviewees who had been handed over to Afghan authorities by international military forces reported torture or ill-treatment in Afghan custody.

Detainees told the UN investigators that torture was typically used to try to elicit confessions.

Fourteen different forms of torture were reported including suspension from ceilings, prolonged and severe beating including on the soles of the feet, twisting of the genitals of male detainees, electric shock, prolonged standing or forced exercise, prolonged exposure to cold weather, and threats of execution and rape.

Many detainees described being subjected to varied and escalating torture if they refused to confess or answer questions in a way that satisfied interrogators.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

Pietersen may play against Hyderabad

As much as Pietersen's availability is a boost, the loss of a potent death bowler might sting Delhi badly. More »

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Struggling Mumbai need batting fuel

Mumbai have explosive hitters down the order in the form of Corey Anderson and Kieron Pollard, but the lack of contributions from them has compounded their… More »

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting IPL will not save cricket

Boycotting the IPL as a means of protest against the grime in the game may not yield the desired results. More »

Atapattu appointed Sri Lanka interim coach

Atapattu appointed Sri Lanka interim coach

Among Atapattu's major challenges will be accounting for the knowledge England already possess of the Sri Lanka team, through Paul Farbrace's England … More »

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan's ICC presence to be challenged

Srinivasan, who has been replaced by the court as board president, was named the BCCI's representative to the ICC last September. However, that position… More »

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Brilliant Maxwell powers Punjab’s renaissance

Maxwell has easily been the best player on display in the first nine days, with scores of 95, 89 and 95 helping Punjab shed their image of also-rans and… More »

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

Bangalore lose nerve, lose game

IPL 7, GAME 11—Vinay's over, Lynn's catch turns last-over finish in KKR's favour. More »

Indian cricket is now dope-free

Indian cricket is now dope-free

The BCCI conducted over 200 dope tests during senior domestic tournaments in the just-ended 2013-14 season – the largest number of tests done by an ICC… More »

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

T20 is all about the little things: Balaji

Balaji acknowledged Maxwell’s role in Punjab’s great start to season seven, but he insists that the efforts of other players like Virender Sehwag, among… More »

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

Couldn't turn down ECB offer: Farbrace

England's new assistant coach Paul Farbrace admitted that it was impossible turn down the job even though he will have mixed feelings when he faces… More »

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

Cleaning up the game starts with fans

... because, as recent events reveal, the BCCI has little intention of doing it. More »

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

Is Srini group delaying BCCI meeting?

The group opposed to Srinivasan alleged that since BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel belongs to the president’s group, he was intentionally delaying the SGM… More »

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

Jadeja spins out Rajasthan in close chase

IPL 7, GAME 10—Chennai beat Rajasthan by 7 runs after last-over scare. More »

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Atapattu likely to be SL interim coach

Sri Lanka's chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya issued the strongest indication yet that Marvan Atapattu would be appointed coach for the tour of Ireland… More »

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Vithanage, Priyanjan get T20 call-ups

Herath has been rested, while the team will be without the veteran pair of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, who retired from T20 internationals… More »

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

'BCCI should have picked panel with care'

Dalmiya said that it was the first time that the BCCI had been faced with a situation where the apex court had hauled up the Board and it should have acted… More »

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

'Gambhir will strike form soon'

Gautam made an eight-ball duck in the opening game against Mumbai and in the second game against Delhi, he lasted only half those balls. More »

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

SL in 'difficult place' after Farbrace exit

Sri Lanka depart for assignments in Ireland and England in two weeks, and Sanath Jayasuriya suggested Marvan Atapattu would be interim head coach for those… More »

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Chandimal axed as T20 captain

Sri Lanka's cricket selectors on Wednesday sacked Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 captain and replaced him with Lasith Malinga, while Angelo Mathews was… More »

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

Farbrace is England's assistant coach

The ECB continued the restructuring of the England coaching set-up on Wednesday by announcing the appointment of Paul Farbrace as assistant coach. More »

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

SC asks Mudgal committee to continue

Mukul Mudgal has communicated to the court his willingness to take up the investigation and has been asked to specify the terms and modalities on April… More »

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

Sri Lanka players resolve pay dispute

The pay dispute between Sri Lanka Cricket and its 13 contracted players ended on Wednesday when the latter agreed to accept 10 percent of the participation… More »

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

Hope to be fit for next game - Pietersen

With two heavy defeats at the hands of Bangalore and Chennai, Daredevils currently languish near the bottom of the table. More »

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

'SC decision could hurt BCCI's status'

The Supreme Court prefers that the Justice Mudgal panel further investigate the IPL corruption scandal. More »