New York Times
Oct. 10, 2011
By ALISSA J. RUBIN
KABUL, Afghanistan — Detainees are hung by their hands and beaten with cables, and in some cases their genitals are twisted until the prisoners lose consciousness at sites run by the Afghan intelligence service and the Afghan National Police, according to a United Nations report released here on Monday.
The report, based on interviews over the past year with more than 300 suspects linked to the insurgency, is the most comprehensive look at the Afghan detention system and an issue that has long concerned Western officials and human rights groups.
It paints a devastating picture of abuse, citing evidence of “systematic torture” during interrogations by Afghan intelligence and police officials even as American and other Western backers provide training and pay for nearly the entire budget of the Afghan ministries running the detention centers.
The report does not assess whether American officials knew of the abuses. But such widespread use of torture in a detention system supported by American mentors and money raises serious questions about potential complicity of American officials and whether they benefited from information obtained from suspects who had been tortured.
“I know of no one who knew about these alleged abuses as they were happening,” said an American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issues involved. “Thus, it’s impossible to know if there was any information passed on that came in some form from these alleged incidents.”
At a minimum, there appears to have been little effort to scrutinize the practices of Afghanistan’s security forces at the detention centers, as pressure has built to move as much responsibility as possible to the Afghans and to reduce American involvement here.
As the United States looks to wind down a decade of war here, the report threatens to complicate efforts to transfer more detention responsibilities to the Afghans. It could also set in motion provisions of American law that would require the United States to cut off money to any Afghan unit involved in abuses.
The Afghan government denied the worst of the allegations in the report, while allowing that there were “deficiencies” in a war-torn country that routinely faced suicide bombings and other forms of terrorism.
Early word of the findings spurred immediate action. After seeing a draft of the report in September, Gen. John R. Allen, the NATO commander here in Afghanistan, halted transfers of those suspected of being insurgents to 16 of the facilities identified as sites where torture or abuse routinely took place.
He has since initiated a plan to investigate the sites, provide training in modern interrogation techniques and monitor the Afghan government’s practices. The American Embassy is now heavily involved in devising a long-term monitoring program for Afghan detention sites, American officials said.
In a statement, NATO officials said they were working with the United Nations and the Afghan government to “improve detention operations” and “establish safeguards.”
Nearly half of the detainees interviewed by United Nations researchers who were in detention sites run by the Afghan intelligence service, known as the National Directorate of Security, told of torture. The national police treatment of detainees was somewhat less severe and widespread, the report found. Its research covered 47 facilities in 22 provinces. Most of those interviewed were suspected of involvement in the insurgency, which has attacked both Afghans and their Western allies.
Of the 324 security-related detainees interviewed, 89 had been handed over to the Afghan intelligence service or the police by international military forces, and in 19 cases, the men were tortured once they were in Afghan custody. The United Nations Convention Against Torture prohibits the transfer of a detained person to the custody of another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they are at risk of torture.
Full Article Here – http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/11/world/asia/un-report-finds-routine-abuse-of-afghan-detainees.html?_r=1