“The United Nations said Sunday that Afghan authorities were still torturing prisoners, such as hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, a year after the U.N. first documented the abuse and the Afghan government promised detention reform.” The most recent report shows that Afghanistan has made minimal progress in bringing the abuse to a halt, despite the fact that the United Nations and international military forces had made an effort to do so. One detainee described his experience to the United Nations team where he said that “they laid me on the ground. One of them sat on my feet and another one sat on my head, and the third one took a pipe and started beating me with it. They were beating me for…one hour and were…telling me that ‘You are with the Taliban and this is what you deserve.’” More than one half of the 635 interviewed detainees reported that they had been tortured, which was roughly the same number as the first report issued in 2011.
The slow progress being made has forced NATO to stop many transfers of detainees to Afghanistan authorities due to a concern that the detainees may be tortured. Despite the United Nations Report, the Afghan government has denied the torture allegations based on the findings of their internal monitoring committee who found that “the allegations of torture of detainees were untrue and thus disproved.” However, the government stated “it would not completely rule out the possibility of torture at its detention facilities, but that it was nowhere near the levels described in the report and that it was checking on reports of abuse.”
The findings in the report illustrate the human rights activists’ fear that this will become even more prevalent as international forces begin to withdraw from the country and become less watchful over the government. After the first report, NATO temporarily stopped transferring Afghans to national authorities until they reformed the prison system to put an end to abuse. Despite the fact that Afghan pledged to increase monitoring in return for the resumption of transfers and decreased inspections, little has changed. In response to the report, General Allen, commander of NATO and US forces in Afghanistan, said that his staff had written letters to Afghan ministers requesting they investigate any allegations of abuse.
Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan President, said that the torture and abuse was not a government policy and further stated that “we also question the motivations behind this report and the way it was conducted.” NATO has responded to this report by once again stopping the transfers of detainees to certain facilities (many of the same facilities as the first report). Is this the proper response by NATO?
This United Nations released this report quietly by simply posting it on the United Nations website to avoid “publicly antagonizing the Afghan government.” Do you agree with this strategy or should the report have been more public to draw awareness to this issue?
Georgette Gagnon, head of human rights for the U.N mission in Afghanistan, stated that “torture cannot be addressed by training, inspections, and directives alone.” Do you agree with this? If so, what do you think can be done to increase oversight and decrease the alleged torture?
The report describes these events as “’persistent lack of accountability for perpetrators of torture’ noting that no one has been prosecuted for prisoner abuse since the first report was released.” With that being said, what measures should be taken to increase accountability? Should the United States intervene and take action to ensure these alleged human rights elements come to an end?