UN slams 'widespread' arbitrary detention in Afghanistan
The United Nations yesterday criticised arbitrary detention in Afghanistan as widespread and unacceptable, calling for an immediate review in order to protect rights.
The findings were presented in a report by the chief human rights officer of the UN mission in Afghanistan, Norah Niland, after more than 18 months spent monitoring Afghan detention facilities.
"Arbitrary detention is widespread in Afghanistan, and unacceptable. Everyone that is detained, lawfully or unlawfully, has rights to be respected," she told a news conference in Kabul.
"Arbitrary detention violates Afghan constitutions, violates the rights of Afghans to liberty and to due process of law.
"They are overcrowding prisons and erode confidence in the government, in the judiciary and undermine the rule of law in the country," Niland said.
The report, which monitored 2,000 Afghan detentions between November 2006 and July 2008, highlighted that Afghans were often detained without legal basis, including for "so-called moral crimes".
It did not cover detentions related to the conflict in Afghanistan, where the Taliban are leading an insurgency against the Western-backed government and tens of thousands of foreign troops deployed in the country.
The UN human rights officer could not provide the overall number of detainees, arbitrary detention facilities or arbitrary detainees in Afghanistan.
The report presented recommendations for combating arbitrary detention and called on the authorities to "immediately revise the legal framework in order to ensure full legal protection of rights."
It recommended the authorities clarify and strengthen oversight and accountability, and improve coordination between institutions.
The report also called for training, a nationwide public awareness of detention rights and prosecution of violators.
Meanwhile, insurgents attacked a police checkpoint in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing nine policemen, the Interior Ministry said.
The attack in Nahri Sarraj district of Helmand province is another example of expanding violence in Afghanistan, especially in the Taliban's heartland in the south.
The US is sending thousands of new troops to counter resurgent Taliban militants, who have made a comeback following their initial defeat by US-led forces in 2001.
The Interior Ministry said the police checkpoint was attacked by "enemies of Afghanistan," a common reference to Taliban militants.
Lightly armed police bear the brunt of militant attacks across the country, and their training is part of measures the US and other international partners have identified as key to battling the insurgency.