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.”
I think we all can rest, assured that Obama and his cronies, new and old, will spend the next four years making sure that all evidence of their immorality, illegality and dumbassery of the previous four years will be obfuscated into acts that will require venerated worship.
But, I really do appreciate this space attempting to hold some people responsible for this . . . . . stuff.
Endless thanks to you all.
@seedeevee: Thanks. As Marcy points out in another post above this one, another irony of the day is Obama’s first act of his second term being to sign the order nominating his drone czar to run the CIA as compared to the first act last time being the hollow act to claim he was closing Gitmo.
The third irony is his claim of ten years of war coming to an end on the same day as another drone strike in Yemen.
So yes, we are looking to hold folks responsible for those things they are trying to sweep under the rug.
At least Obama did throw us the crumbs of mentioning climate change and gay rights in his speech today. That was an unexpected gift, but the questions becomes whether he will follow up those words or allow them to be as hollow as his Gitmo closure theater.
Thank you seedeevee and Jim.
I was tortured for almost 3 years by the FBI and their friends only
because 85 years old man, Roland Sibens(chicago) convinced them that I
am a terrorist. I was tortured for working on my prosthetic legs in
the basement. I done absolutely nothing illegal or wrong. They thought
that in theory it is possible to hide bomb in them. They saw an
opportunity to get famous, so they were trying to torture me till I
sign their insane story. They tortured me using more than 100
different torturing methods and trust to me waterboarding is not how
they torture nowadays. I dont know where to find justice.
I think that after 9/11 things got out of control. Freedom fighters
became tyrants. In 1945, most Germans had an opportunity to learn about Nazis death
camps. I hope that one day American citizens will get chance to learn about people
like me, who were tortured with no reason for years.