Thursday, December 10, 2009

Torture? "A Commonplace Practice" In Afghan Institutions

It seems that the only people who weren't aware that detainees faced almost certain torture were Harper, MacKay and their general staff officers. Here's what the Afghan Independent Human Rights Organization reports on torture in Afghan prisons found:

Torture is prohibited by the Afghan Constitution and the Afghan Penal Code, and the
various international treaties, to which Afghanistan is a party, have banned torture and
other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. Although torture is considered an act
against human dignity, an egregious violation of human rights, and part of crimes against
humanity, the findings of this study indicate that torture is a commonplace practice in
Afghanistan’s law enforcement institutions

...One of the constraints this study faces is the collection of cases of torture by law
enforcement institutions that have been verified. What it means is that due to
administrative corruption and the influence exerted by powerful persons, few such cases are investigated. In some instances, for example, prison or detention center officers hid victims or kept them away from the Commission’s reach. Research on victims of torture in these institutions is, therefore, very difficult and complicated.
The other limitation is that all victims do not complain against torture and that is because complaints are not followed up, leading to disillusionment in victims.

...Human Rights Watch (H.R.W.) expressed its serious concern over acts of torture by Afghan forces againstprisoners in its report “Enduring Freedom” Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan4 inMarch 2004. In its study, H.R.W. states that according to its researchers who have visited prisons, met victims, or interviewed human rights monitors, torture in prisons and
detention centers under the control of Afghan forces is an ordinary, widespread matter. It
also says those suspected or accused of collaborating with Taliban and anti-government
elements constitute the majority of the tortured persons. Based on another report by this
organization, torture of prisoners is commonplace in prisons under the control of police
and security departments in Herat and other western provinces.5

...The findings of this research reveal that torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are a commonplace practice in the majority of law enforcement institutions and that at least 98.5% of interviewees believed they had been tortured by these institutions. The causal factors of torture in law enforcement institutions include:

• Obtaining confession and testimony from the suspected or accused person
• No means to prove crime
• Inadequate professionals and lack of necessary training in this area
• Lack of such techniques as collecting evidences and documents to prove crime
• Bribery and financial gain
• Personal enmities and the influence of powerful persons
• Impunity of torturers

...Institutions where torture is common include police (security, justice, traffic), national security, detention centers, prisons, prosecution office, and national army. In addition, these include criminal investigation departments, departments of police, districts, and
sections of police.

Torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment are mostly perpetrated in law
enforcement institutions to obtain confessions and testimonies. Lack of means to prove
crime, personal enmities, administrative corruption and financial gain, lack of knowledge
of officers of the rights of the suspected and accused persons, lack of knowledge of the
suspected persons of their rights, lack of follow-up of torture cases, legal lacunae
regarding torture, and inadequacy of professional cadres in criminal investigation
departments are the major causal factors of torture and other inhuman treatment, which
are discussed in the following.

Lack of follow-up of torture cases and victim complaints is a basic reason why torture
and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment are widespread in law enforcement
institutions. According to the responses provided by officers, the obstacles preventing the
follow-up of these cases include failure of officers to implement laws, legal ambiguities,
lack of facilities to prove crime, interference of powerful persons, and other reasons like
bribery, lack of professional cadres, and favoritism in governmental organizations. About
99% of interviewed officers believe that torture cases are not followed up because of the
aforesaid causes. Of those, failure to implement laws, interference of powerful persons,
and lack of facilities to prove crime are at the top of answers.

Based on the responses given by victims of torture, judges do not pay heed to the
observations that the accused persons have confessed under the conditions of torture. the questionnaires filled out by officers, only 17.4% of them
have stated that they are aware of the right against torture.
They are not clear and
unanimous on what constitutes torture.

...The methods of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, which are
common in Afghanistan, are generally violent and horrible. The tools used to torture
victims are vehemently inhuman and against human dignity. These methods range from
punching, kicking, slapping, and humiliation to flogging by cable and electric shock,
sometimes leading to a victim’s unconsciousness and death.

No comments: