U.N. report finds torture of Afghan detainees, secret sites

Sun Jan 20, 2013 2:13pm EST
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By Dylan Welch

KABUL (Reuters) - Almost a third of all detainees recently transferred to Afghan control have been tortured and Afghanistan's spy agency is operating secret facilities to avoid international scrutiny, a United Nations report released on Sunday said.

The findings could complicate the already thorny issue of how to manage the security transition ahead of the withdrawal of NATO-led troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year. Hundreds of detainees are being transferred from NATO to Afghan control as part of that transition.

Based on interviews with hundreds of detainees between October 2011 and October 2012, the 139-page report found "credible and reliable evidence" that more than half of those interviewed experienced torture or abuse.

Of the 79 detainees interviewed who were transferred from NATO to Afghan control during the 12 months, 25 were tortured, a rise of seven per cent over the previous year's report.

"The (Afghan) government's efforts to address torture and those of ISAF (NATO's International Security Assistance Force), although significant, have not resulted in a marked improvement and reduction in the use of torture," said the report.

"This raises concerns at a time when the government is taking over almost full responsibility for conflict-related detainees from international military forces."

The European Union said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" by the report and urged the Afghan government to "bring the perpetrators of such acts to justice".

A spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS) referred Reuters to President Hamid Karzai's office for comment. Karzai's spokesman said a statement would be released on Monday.   Continued...

A captured Taliban insurgent is presented to the media in Ghazni province June 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mustafa Andaleb