UN monitor of Afghan rights accuses US on detentions
* Bassiouni denounces reports of sexual abuse, beatings, torture and use of force by coalition forces
KABUL: A United Nations human rights official says he has received reports of torture and other abuses by US-led and Afghan forces, which undermine the country’s security and stability.
Cherif Bassiouni, the UN’s independent expert on human rights in Afghanistan, said in a new report that he had received reports that US-led forces and Afghan security agencies “act above and beyond the reach of the law by engaging in arbitrary arrests and detentions” and torturing their detainees. “The independent expert has received reports of serious violations by the coalition forces from victims, AIHRC (Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission), NGOs and others,” he said in a report on human rights in Afghanistan published on the Internet this week.
The UN expert said it was difficult to confirm many of the allegations, but a number of incidents had been publicly reported.
He denounced reports “of sexual abuse, beatings, torture and use of force resulting in death” by the 18,000-strong US-led coalition forces.
“When these forces directly engage in practices that violate... international human rights and international humanitarian law, they undermine the national project of establishing a legal basis for the use of force,” he said.
While Afghan officials had cooperated with the UN and AIHRC, neither UN nor commission officials had been granted access to US detention facilities where at least eight people have died in custody since 2001, the report said.
International non-governmental agencies estimated that “over 1,000 individuals have been detained, often after being arrested with excessive or indiscriminate force,” by coalition forces in Afghanistan, it added.
While the US military has made efforts to improve troop conduct, an internal Pentagon investigation of detentions in Afghanistan remains classified, unlike similar abuses in Iraq, it said.
Human rights abuses have also been committed by unregulated foreign private security contractors and poorly paid, inadequately trained police linked with local factional commanders.
“There are multiple security institutions managed by the National Security Directorate, the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Defence, which function in an uncoordinated manner, lack central control,” or formal accountability, the report noted.
Bassiouni also pointed to rampant human rights violations, including abuse of women and children and land seizures, by regional warlords who are estimated to command about 80,000 illegally armed men and who are tightly linked with the country’s booming drugs trade. “If corruption continues to intensify, as is likely with the growing power of drug traffickers and organised crime, it will become virtually impossible to establish and sustain a meaningful commitment to the rule of law in Afghanistan,” the report said.
US-based Human Rights Watch on Wednesday said the UN should strengthen its monitoring of human rights in Afghanistan as the situation in the country remains “perilous.” afp