The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan has expressed concern about credible accounts of Taliban subjecting detainees to ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture, as well as serious allegations that some detainees were killed. Reports also indicate that detainees were held in poor conditions and made to do forced labour.
UNAMA’s preliminary findings derived from face-to-face interviews with 13 detainees freed from a Taliban-run detention facility in Uruzgan on 25 April 2019 in an Afghan National Army Special Forces operation, in which they provided consistent accounts of the poor conditions in which they were held and credible claims of ill-treatment and torture, as well as the murder of civilians and security personnel. Multiple detainees reported the murder of at least 11 others by the Taliban.
“I am gravely concerned about these serious allegations of ill-treatment, torture and unlawful killing of civilians and security personnel, as well as the deplorable conditions of detention,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and head of UNAMA.
The group of 53 detainees freed from the Taliban-run facility known as Kalatak, located in the village of Shira in the Khas-Uruzgan district of Uruzgan, included 45 members of the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces and eight civilians, including three civilian government officials. Most of the detainees had been held since 2018, with three held since 2016.
All those released reported being shackled permanently. Some detainees reported that during the beatings the Taliban demanded they provide information or confess to specific acts. The remainder of the detainees said the beatings were punishment for what they were told was supporting the government, working with Americans or fighting the Taliban.
UNAMA’s preliminary findings indicate that the conditions of detention and the treatment of the detainees contravenes minimum standards applicable to a party to a non-international conflict.
“The United Nations reminds the Taliban that international humanitarian law applicable to international and non-international armed conflicts provides that all persons who do not take direct part in hostilities, or who have ceased to do so, must always be treated humanely,” said Richard Bennett, UNAMA’s Chief of Human Rights.