UN: Afghan detainees suffered persistent torture, mistreatment

More than 100 detainees interviewed were younger than 18, with 44 saying they were tortured, the report said

KABUL – More than one in three Afghans detained on conflict-related allegations say they were tortured or mistreated, according to a U.N. report released Wednesday.

The report by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said the number of detainees saying they had been ill-treated or tortured in the past two years – 278 of 790 interviewed – was 14 per cent lower than the previous observation period.

The report says those interviewed were detained in 128 facilities in 28 of the country’s 34 provinces.

The detainees reported 16 different torture methods, including severe beatings, suspension from walls or ceilings, electric shocks and near-asphyxiation. Some detainees said their genitals were twisted with a wrench-like device while others reported being forced into stress positions, being kept in extremely hot or cold conditions and being denied food and water.

More than 100 detainees interviewed were younger than 18, with 44 saying they were tortured, the report said.

A detainee who was held in an intelligence facility said he was kicked and punched on his first day of detention and beaten with a water pipe on the second day. On the third day, he said, they used a device to “squeeze my sexual parts till I cried,” at which point he confessed to being part of the Taliban insurgency, the report said.

“I was scared because they threatened they would destroy my sexual organs. I just said anything and they wrote it down and I put my thumb prints on the papers. I thought I might die if they destroyed my sexual organs,” he was quoted as saying.

The report said the government had failed to do enough to ensure accountability. It said torture investigations were flawed and alleged perpetrators were rarely prosecuted, fired or disciplined.

The government questioned some of the incidents of abuse documented in the report and said others were carried out by individuals acting on their own.

“It is not the official policy of the government of Afghanistan to implement torture and ill-treat detainees in order to obtain information and confessions,” the National Security Council said in a statement.