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Afghanistan prisoners facing abuse, torture: UN report

Prisoners in some Afghan-run detention facilities have been beaten and tortured, according to a report [text, PDF; executive summary] released Monday by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) [official website]. The prisoners interviewed for the study had been detained by the National Directorate of Security (NDS) or Afghan National Police (ANP) forces for national security crimes. Nearly half of the 273 detainees interviewed reported that they had undergone interrogation that amounted to torture. UNAMA also alleged that NDS and ANP officials committed due process violations and arbitrarily detained arrestees but did acknowledge that the abuse was not the result of official government policy. The report contends that torture and arbitrary detention undermine reconciliation and reintegration of former Taliban members into Afghan society and compromises national security:

Torture, ill-treatment and arbitrary detention by the NDS and ANP are not only serious violations of human rights and crimes they also pose obstacles to reconciliation and reintegration processes aimed at ending the armed conflict in Afghanistan. UNAMA's research along with the findings of other experts who have analysed the emergence and growth of the insurgency post-2001, highlights that such abuses in many cases contributed to individual victims joining or rejoining the Taliban and other anti-Government armed groups.
UNAMA recommended that the Afghan government, the NDS and ANP adopt and implement measures to reduce abuse in detention facilities.

Afghanistan has received much criticism for its human rights record. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported in September that the Afghan Local Police (ALP) force is committing serious abuses [JURIST report], and the Afghan government is doing little to hold the officials accountable. Corruption, abuse of power and a focus on short-term security goals in Afghanistan have intensified the issue of poverty [JURIST report] affecting more than two-thirds of the population, according to a March 2010 report [text, DOC] from the UN's Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) [official website]. Earlier that same month, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] delivered a report [JURIST report] to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) [official website] that said Afghanistan's human rights progress has been thwarted by armed conflict, censorship, abuse of power and violence against women.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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