Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prisoners still tortured: UN

Afghan government denies report

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners, including hanging them by their wrists and beating them with cables, the United Nations said, a year after it first documented the abuse and won government promises of detention reform.

The latest report shows little progress in curbing abuse in Afghan prisons, despite efforts by the UN and international military forces in Afghanistan. The report released Sunday also cites instances where Afghan authorities have tried to hide mistreatment from UN monitors.

The slow progress on prison reform has prompted NATO forces to once again stop many transfers of detainees to Afghan authorities out of concern they would be tortured.

In multiple detention centres, Afghan authorities leave detainees hanging from the ceiling by their wrists, beat them with cables and wooden sticks, administer electric shocks, twist their genitals and threaten to shove bottles up their anuses or to kill them, the report said.

In a letter responding to the latest report, the Afghan government said its internal monitoring committee found "the allegations of torture of detainees were untrue and thus disproved." The Afghan government said it would not completely rule out the possibility of torture at its detention facilities, but it was nowhere near the levels described in the report and it was checking on reports of abuse.

The findings, however, highlight the type of human-rights abuses many activists worry could become more prevalent in Afghanistan as international forces draw down and the country's western allies become less watchful over a government that so far has taken few concrete actions to reform the system.

More than half the 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured, according to the report titled Treatment of Conflict-Related Detainees in Afghan Custody: One Year On.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 21, 2013 A9

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