U.N. report: Detainees 'systematically' tortured by Afghan authorities

Detainees at Afghan police and intelligence detention facilities have been subjected to torture including hanging by their wrists, electric shock, and twisted genitals, among other interrogation techniques, according to a United Nations report released on Monday.

The report, which was researched by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, is the result of nearly a year of interviews with more than 300 randomly selected, pretrial and convicted detainees at Afghan National Police detention centers, National Directorate of Security facilities, and Ministry of Justice prisons and juvenile rehabilitation centers.

"Nearly all detainees tortured by NDS officials reported the abuse took place during interrogations and was aimed at obtaining a confession or information," said the report, which found that 46 percent of NDS detainees interviewed had experienced interrogation techniques that consisted of torture. The report found that torture is practiced "systematically" at NDS detention facilities throughout Afghanistan.

While the report does not apportion any complicity to U.S. or Western officials, it does note that Afghan security forces are trained and funded by the international community.

The ANP's budget is mainly funded by a multilateral trust set up by the United Nations Development Programme in 2002. The trust receives contributions from the United States as well as a number of other Western nations.

The report points out that despite the systematic nature of the torture, is it not based on institutional or Afghan government policy, but is rather the result of the actions of individual security officials. Reform is, therefore, "both possible and desired," the report said, noting that government officials had already cooperated with the report's investigation and begun to take actions to address these problems.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force responded to the formal release of the report, noting that it has already taken action in suspending detainee transfers to certain facilities based on the findings.

Still, the report may put a wrench in American efforts to hand over security responsibilities to Afghan officials as U.S. troops begin a gradual drawdown from Afghanistan. The Obama administration is set to withdraw 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year.

ISAF, with which UNAMA shared its findings over the course of the last month, said in a statement that it is working closely with the Afghan government and the U.N. panel on efforts to "improve detention operations and establish safeguards to prevent future mistreatment."

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