Afghan torture

IssueNovember 2011
News by Gabriel Carlyle

The UN assistance mission to Afghanistan (UNAMA) interviewed 379 randomly-chosen detainees in 47 facilities around the country between October 2010 and August 2011. Of these 324 were being held regarding offences related to the war. UNAMA found compelling evidence that:

  • 46% of interviewees being held at NDS facilities had been tortured during interrogation;
  • officials at the provincial NDS facilities in Herat, Kandahar, Khost, and Laghman, as well as at the national facility of NDS counter-terrorism department 124 in Kabul, systematically tortured detainees for the purpose of obtaining confessions and information;
  • of the 89 interviewees who had been transferred to Afghan custody by NATO-led forces, 21% had been tortured in NDS facilities.
  • In 17 NDS facilities (including the provincial facility in Helmand) another 25% of interviewees also made allegations of torture, though UNAMA concluded that more research was needed to establish the credibility of these claims.

Methods of alleged torture include suspension by the wrists; beating with rubber hoses; electric shock; removal of toenails; and prolonged standing.

Last year, in response to a case brought by British peace activist Maya Evans, the UK high court ruled that the UK could continue to transfer detainees to the NDS in both Helmand and Kandahar (but not in Kabul), though the UK actually stopped its transfers to NDS Kandahar anyway.

According to UNAMA, the Afghan intelligence service “is among the most enduring of the [Afghan] state’s institutions, with many of its institutional structures, personnel, facilities and legal regulations dating back to the communist period”.

The NDS now reportedly receives technical assistance and trainings from, among others, the UK.

Topics: War news