Afghan detention system

UN Notes That Ending Torture Requires Accountability. Too Bad They Are Talking About Afghanistan.

Back in October of 2011, I wrote about a report prepared by the UN (pdf) in which it was found that torture is widespread in detention facilities administered by Afghanistan. The primary point of my post was that the US, and especially JSOC, had no credibility in their denials of responsibility for torture in Afghan prisons because the entire Afghan detention system had been established and its personnel trained by JSOC.

The US response to that report was not a huge surprise. It consisted of a doubling down on the one thing ISAF claims as its savior–training. After all, it is training of the ANSF that is intended to provide cover for the eventual withdrawal of combat forces by the end of next year, so why can’t training save the detention system, too?  A follow-up report was issued yesterday (pdf), and it serves as a complete slap-down to the US response.

The report finds that this training approach was a dismal failure, as torture has not abated:

Using internationally accepted methodology, standards and best practices, UNAMA’s detention observation from October 2011 to October 2012 found that despite Government and international efforts to address torture and ill-treatment of conflict related detainees, torture persists and remains a serious concern in numerous detention facilities across Afghanistan.

UNAMA found sufficiently credible and reliable evidence that more than half of 635 detainees interviewed (326 detainees) experienced torture and ill-treatment in numerous facilities of the Afghan National Police (ANP), National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan Local Police (ALP) between October 2011 and October 2012 This finding is similar to UNAMA’s findings for October 2010-11 which determined that almost half of the detainees interviewed who had been held in NDS facilities and one third of detainees interviewed who had been held in ANP facilities experienced torture or ill-treatment at the hands of ANP or NDS officials.

And here is the UN concluding in the report that training alone won’t stop torture. Instead, real accountability is what is needed:

Similar to previous findings, UNAMA found a persistent lack of accountability for perpetrators of torture with few investigations and no prosecutions or loss of jobs for those responsible for torture or ill-treatment. The findings in this report highlight that torture cannot be addressed by training, inspections and directives alone but requires sound accountability measures to stop and prevent its use. Without effective deterrents and disincentives to use torture, including a robust, independent investigation process or criminal prosecutions, Afghan officials have no incentive to stop torture. A way forward is clear.

This seems like a particularly important message to take into consideration on the day that Barack Obama is involved in the pomp and circumstance of starting his second term in office. He gained the support of many progressives during the Democratic primaries in 2008 by issuing a strong call for torture accountability and then famously turned his back on it by expressing his desire to “look forward, not backward”. With this report, the UN shows the moral bankruptcy of such an approach and seems in fact to even be taunting him with the final “A way forward is clear.”

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz .@LemieuxLGM And, by the way, Bernie, his wife, and only two others in party, could not possibly have been nicer, nor more genuine.
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bmaz @LemieuxLGM In July, @BernieSanders came into a very conservative steakhouse I was in, Durants, in Phoenix, and the whole place cheered him.
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bmaz @mikeanddave Seriously, what the fuck kind of shit is this. STOP promoting it in my timeline you PR jackasses. Fuck off.
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bmaz @yeselson @tomwatson @emilynussbaum @ebruenig And that's irrespective of which side any of us may be buying into during a contested primary.
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emptywheel RT @SenJohnMcCain: Heading to Senate floor to discuss proposals to revive waterboarding & other inhumane interrogation methods - watch: htt…
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emptywheel RT @AnonyOps: New Scientist: Sleep deprivation linked to false confession in milestone study https://t.co/AIo6XQdKBT https://t.co/mBwjniSMyB
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bmaz @yeselson @tomwatson @emilynussbaum @ebruenig I agree. There is so much more+deeper implications to this issue than political Twitter takes.
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emptywheel @DevlinBarrett Does that include IDing people who've sold themselves out for Bitcoin?
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emptywheel @attackerman Well, what are you still lolly-gagging around here for? @AliWatkins
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emptywheel @attackerman Ah, missed that while CSPAN's website was being a jerk. You'll have the scoop on who is set to replace him? Monaco? O'Sullivan?
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emptywheel @OKnox My ability to fathom a Bernie presidency starts failing when I think abt Qs like this.
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emptywheel @MinimizedPotus Planning on it. Brennan too, first public hearing since torture report.
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