KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Around a third of all conflict-related detainees in Afghanistan say they have suffered from torture or ill-treatment, the U.N. said Wednesday.
U.N. officials interviewed a total of 618 detainees held in 77 government facilities across the country between January 2017 and December 2018. The alleged torture included beatings, suffocation and electric shocks. The U.N. said nearly a third of those interviewed provided "credible and reliable" accounts of abuse and mistreatment, without providing an exact number of detainees.
The U.S.-backed Afghan government is holding thousands of detainees, many of them captured as part of the ongoing war with the Taliban. The insurgents have made major gains in recent years and now effectively control half the country. Widespread corruption and distrust of the government has undermined efforts to combat the Taliban.
Afghan officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
The joint report by the U.N. mission to Afghanistan and the U.N. Human Rights Office said 32% of detainees reported torture or mistreatment, down from 39% during the previous reporting period, from January 2015 to December 2016.
"We welcome the steps taken by the Government to prevent and investigate cases of torture and ill-treatment over the past two years," the report quoted U.N. envoy Tadamichi Yamamoto as saying. But he added that "there is still a long way to go to eradicate this horrendous practice among conflict-related detainees."
"Respect for the rule of law and human rights is the best way to create the conditions for sustainable peace," he added.
The report found that torture was most widespread in police facilities in the southern Kandahar province, the heartland of the Taliban. It said 77% of detainees held in a police facility there reported abuse, "including allegations of brutal forms of torture, such as suffocation, electric shocks, pulling of genitals and suspension from ceilings." It said there were also allegations of forced disappearances.