The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) said it has documented hundreds of cases of torture and other "cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment" committed by the current authorities in Afghanistan during the arrest and subsequent detention of individuals.
UNAMA said in a report on Wednesday that it had documented over 1,600 cases of human rights violations -- nearly half of which comprised acts of “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment” -- committed by the current authorities in Afghanistan during arrests and detentions, and the deaths of 18 individuals while in custody.
The report covers the period from January 2022 until the end of July 2023, with cases found across 29 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.
“The personal accounts of beatings, electric shocks, water torture, and numerous other forms of cruel and degrading treatment, along with threats made against individuals and their families, are harrowing. Torture is forbidden in all circumstances,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said in a statement issued with the report.
The report acknowledges steps taken to ensure stronger oversight of places of detention, including the continued work of the MOI and GDI Human Rights Directorates, OPA’s monitoring committee, the Supreme Court’s committees, as well as the creation of a new High Directorate of Supervision and Prosecution of Decrees and Edicts mandated to monitor places of detention and investigate allegations of abuse.
“Although there have been some encouraging signs in terms of leadership directives as well as an openness among many de facto officials to engage constructively with UNAMA, and allow visits to prisons, these documented cases highlight the need for urgent, accelerated action by all,” said Roza Otunbayeva, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Head of UNAMA.
"To resolve this issue, it is essential that the prisoners have access to a defence attorney, and international organisations like the Red Cross and other human rights institutions should provide monitoring of the prisons in meetings with the prisoners," said Abdullah Ahmadi, expert in human rights issues.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Emirate said the UNAMA report on prisons in Afghanistan is “propaganda and far from reality.”
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Islamic Emirate's spokesperson, said in a statement: “UNAMA has stated in a report that prisoners are being mistreated in prisons and detention centers in Afghanistan. We strongly reject this propaganda. It is not permissible to beat, mistreat and or torture anyone in the Islamic Emirate's military and civil institutions, including prisons and detention centers."
Previously, some international organizations have criticized human rights violations and arbitrary arrests in Afghanistan, an issue that has always been denied by the Islamic Emirate.