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Afghan government: Prisoner abuse not systematic

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 11, 2013 at 7:04 a.m.

— An Afghan government panel acknowledged Monday that detainees face widespread torture but denied there is systematic abuse in government-run prisons.

The panel’s findings were the result of a two-week fact-finding mission after a U.N. report last month that said Afghan authorities are still torturing prisoners despite promises of change. The country’s intelligence service earlier had denied any torture in its detention facilities.

The complaints have prompted NATO to stop many transfers of detainees to the Afghans as concerns about torture raise questions about the government’s commitment to human rights.

The U.N. report said more than half of the 635 detainees interviewed had been tortured — about the same ratio found in its first report in 2011. It cited tactics including hanging detainees from the ceiling by their wrists, beating them with cables and administering electric shocks.

Many rights activists have expressed concern that such abuses could become more common 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 overhaul the system.

The Afghan panel also denied the allegation in the U.N. report that the government appeared to be trying to hide the mistreatment by hiding detainees in secret locations during inspections by international observers.

Commission head Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa told reporters that torture and beatings occur in the first stages of the arrest “but not while they are in prison.”

The delegation visited both male and female prisons as well as juvenile detention facilities.

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