AFGHANISTAN:PRISONS RIFE WITH TORTURE, U.S. RIGHTS REPORT ASSERTS

ZNet | Afghanistan
Prisons rife with torture, U.S. rights report asserts
by Paul Koring; Globe and Mail; March 11, 2007

Washington — Afghan prisons where Canada consigns detainees captured by its troops are rife with torture, abuse and corruption, according to the latest human-rights assessment by the U.S. State Department.

“Security and factional forces committed extrajudicial killings and
torture,” the U.S. report says. Broader “human-rights problems included: extrajudicial killings; torture; poor prison conditions; official impunity; prolonged pretrial detention; abuse of authority by regional commanders; restrictions on freedoms of press, religion, movement, and association; violence and societal discrimination against women, religious converts, and minorities; trafficking in persons; abuse of worker rights; and child labour.”

Canadian troops usually turn detainees over to the Afghan National Police. The State Department said, “The ANP . . . was the predominant government institution responsible for security in the country. Its performance engendered mistrust among the local population, and reports of corruption and mistreatment of citizens in custody were widespread.”

Prison conditions in Afghanistan vary widely, the report says, as does the level of police and judicial corruption. Local authorities “routinely
torture and abuse detainees,” the report says. “Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.”

The U.S. report was also harsh in its assessment of prison conditions.
“Prisons were decrepit, severely overcrowded, and unsanitary.

Prisoners shared collective cells and were not sheltered adequately from severe winter conditions . . . prisoners were reportedly beaten, tortured, and denied adequate food,” it says. “Prison guards routinely denied visitors, food, and outside exercise as a means of discipline and to ensure good behaviour. The AIHRC continued to report that inadequate food, water, poor sanitation facilities, insufficient blankets, and infectious diseases were common conditions in the country’s prisons.

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