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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early decades of the 21st Century 2000 to 2025                            


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported security forces continued to use excessive force, including torturing and beating civilians. Despite legislation prohibiting these acts, independent monitors continued to report credible cases of torture in detention centers.

According to local media, lawyers representing detainees in detention centers alleged in July that torture remained commonplace and that detainees were regularly questioned using torture methods.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Afghanistan

CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Afghanistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Afghan Officials Admit Torturing Detainees

Sharon Behn, Voice of America VOA News, Islamabad, 12 February 2013

[accessed 13 Jan 2014]

[accessed 16 February 2020]

An Afghan presidential investigative commission has confirmed that Afghan police and security officials are torturing detainees, despite promises of reform. But the head of the commission denies statements by the United Nations that torture and ill-treatment are systematic in Afghan detention centers.

Commission head Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa acknowledges that almost half of the people they interviewed said they had been tortured and even more said they had no access to defense lawyers. He says members of the delegation confirm the existence of torture, mistreatment, beatings and threats that occurred mostly during the arrest of detainees or during interrogations.

But Adalatkhwa says his commission's two-week fact-finding mission did not find evidence to support a recent U.N. report saying there were systematic, widespread abuses of conflict-related detainees in Afghan custody.

The U.N. report, released in January, concluded that torture was an institutional policy or practice and not just used by a few individuals in isolated cases.

It says U.N. interviewers had seen injuries, marks and scars consistent with torture and ill-treatment, including prolonged beatings, electric shocks and hangings by the wrists.

*** ARCHIVES ***

'Signs Of Torture': Two Afghan Journalists Severely Beaten After Detention By Taliban

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL's Radio Azadi, 9 September 2021

[accessed 9 September 2021]

Two journalists for Kabul-based newspaper Etilaat-e Roz were detained by Taliban militants while covering a protest for women's rights on September 7. They were released hours later covered in bruises and barely able to walk. RFE/RL's Radio Azadi spoke to the newspaper's founder about the beatings and the dangers faced by journalists trying to cover the new Taliban regime.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Afghanistan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 2 July 2021]


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported security forces continued to use excessive force, including torturing and beating civilians. Despite legislation prohibiting these acts, independent monitors continued to report credible cases of torture in detention centers. According to local media, lawyers representing detainees in detention centers alleged in July that torture remained commonplace and that detainees were regularly questioned using torture methods.


Physical Conditions: Overcrowding in prisons continued to be a serious, widespread problem. On April 21, the general director of prisons stated the country’s prisons suffered from widespread abuses, including corruption, lack of attention to detainees’ sentences, sexual abuse of underage prisoners, and lack of access to medical care.


UNAMA, the AIHRC, and other observers reported arbitrary and prolonged detention frequently occurred throughout the country, including persons being detained without judicial authorization. Authorities often did not inform detainees of the charges against them.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 14 May 2020]


Further reports emerged of summary executions of civilians who were targeted in raids by special forces units of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and so-called “campaign forces” supported by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). For example, in August 2019, a unit of the Khost Protection Force militia summarily executed 11 civilians in Kulalgo, of Zurmat District. Protests against such raids prompted the resignation of NDS Director Mohammed Masoon Stanekzai in September.

ALP commander running private jail, torture cell in Wardak

Pajhwok Afghan News, 2 July 2015

[accessed 25 Aug 2015]

Sharifullah Hotak, a member of the provincial council, said ALP Commander Karim was involved in torturing local residents in his private jail, forcing many families to flee homes for other areas.

He said the latest incident took place about a week ago, when the commander and his gunmen snatched a farmer, Habibullah, from a vehicle en route to the district from Kabul and took him to the private jail.

“After his arrest by commander Karim, Habibullah was mercilessly beaten and knocked unconscious for three hours. Later gunmen of the commander penetrated a hot steel rod into Habibullah’s nose and genitals.”

Torture on wane in Afghan detention centres but still widespread

Sune Engel Rasmussen, The Guardian, Kabul, 25 February 2015

[accessed 31 March 2015]

Sediq Sediqqi, an interior ministry spokesman, said the government would intensify its efforts to “totally eradicate” the use of torture. “We will investigate and look into the findings of the report, and prosecute those who have committed these crimes,” he said. However, he added: “Torture is not systematic, it’s only committed by a few people.”

The torture experienced by prisoners included severe whippings with cables, pipes and other objects, full-body beatings, twisting of genitals and threats of execution and sexual assault. Detainees said they had nails pulled out and were forced to drink excessive amounts of water, put in stress positions and subjected to electric shock. After their interrogation, some detainees were forced to video-record confessions and sign statements denying that they had been coerced.

In 2013, following the last UN detention report, Nato revised and reduced the number of Afghan facilities they would transfer prisoners to. Yet, for the UN’s recent report, 36 prisoners said they had been tortured in Afghan detention centres after being detained by international forces or in operations overseen by international forces.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


TORTURE, EXTRAJUDICIAL EXECUTIONS, AND ENFORCED DISAPPEARANCES - Police impunity in 2014 extended to other crimes against civilians: in April,  Meena Intizar, a poet, claimed that she had fled Kandahar city after one of Raziq’s deputies, Abdul Wadood Sarhadi Jajo, threatened to rape and kill her and family members after she filed a complaint that Jajo’s forces raided her home and stole electronics, jewelry, and money. Jajo had been accused previously of sexual assault, but was never prosecuted. In May, he was killed in a suicide attack.  The Afghan Local Police (ALP)—a network of local defense forces established largely by the US military in cooperation with the Afghan government—continued to be responsible for serious human rights violations, including extrajudicial executions.  During an offensive against the Taliban in August in Zhare district, Kandahar, an ALP unit under Brigadier General Raziq’s command reportedly captured and executed six Kuchi nomads it accused of working with the Taliban. In June, ALP members under Commander Abdullah summarily executed three villagers in Andar district following a clash with Taliban forces in the area. According to UNAMA, at time of writing there had been no accountability for the killings.

Government Panel in Afghanistan Confirms Widespread Torture of Detainees

Douglas Schorzman, The New York Times, 11 February  2013

[accessed 12 February 2013]

At a news conference in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, the panel’s director said its inquiry had confirmed evidence that nearly half of the 284 prisoners interviewed in three provinces had been tortured during arrest or questioning. The inquiry also found that many of the detainees never had access to legal defense.

But even though the official, Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa, noted that the findings were serious, he insisted that there was no evidence of “systematic torture.”

UN report exposes torture of Afghan detainees

Russia Today RT News Network, 21 January, 2013

[accessed 23 January 2013]

A United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report released on Sunday underlined the abuse of ‘conflict-related detainees’ across 89 detention facilities in 30 provinces from October 2011 to October 2012, many of whom have been relocated to multiple Afghan detention camps by foreign governments.

Extensive interviews revealed that 326 – more than half – of the 635 detainees consulted had experienced ‘ill-treatment and torture’. The interviews also revealed that torture was still a systemic problem in the prisons, and that incidents of torture in Afghan National Police facilities have actually increased over the past year.

Those who suffered at the hands of authorities revealed their shocking firsthand experiences to interviewers, with 105 of the cases involving those classified as children under international law.

One detainee from Farah, western Afghanistan, reported to the UN that he was laid on the ground, as two individuals sat on his feet and head. The third took a pipe, and started beating him with it, saying “you are with Taliban and this is what you deserve.”

A 16-year-old boy gave a harrowing account to UNAMA, saying that “if I did not confess that I am a Taliban member, then the last resort would be pulling down my trousers and pushing a bottle into my anus… He asked the other interrogator to bring the bottle and then pull my trousers down…I realized that I could not do anything else except to accept what the interrogators wanted me to admit.”

Another spoke to interviewers of how he was handcuffed behind his back: “…fabric was very tightly around and under my arms and [they] suspended me from a mulberry tree. They did this for long periods of time until I would lose consciousness. This happened every night for six days or so… Around three times a foreign delegation, composed of American military, I think, came to check the Hawza, but each time they came I was hidden.”

There were further accounts of detainees being hung from the ceiling by their wrists, beaten with objects such as wooden sticks, cables and rifle butts, being shocked with electricity until they passed out, their genitals being twisted and beaten, and death threats.

Karzai calls for prison torture investigation

Ali M Latifi, Al Jazeera, 22 Jan 2013

[accessed 23 January 2013]

"People say they were beaten, but where are the bruises? If we rip out people's fingernails, then show the scars. Prove it," the official said, adding that the NDS only detains "the enemies of Afghanistan."

"When people manage to speak to them alone, the stories change. They are looking to defend themselves, so they make up these false stories."

The official argued that the 635 detainees interviewed by the UN were duped by a "welcoming war" of words by critics of the Afghan government, an increasingly common narrative in Kabul.

These doubts were echoed by Aimal Faizi, a presidential spokesman. "While the Afghan government takes very seriously the allegations made in the UN report, we also question the motivations behind this report and the way it was conducted," he said.

When asked about the claim in the report that "all tortured detainees were taken out of their cells... and they were transferred to another building inside the same compound to hide them," the NDS official said countless groups have observed the agency's practices. "Anyone we interrogate, we document it all. Everything we've done is in writing."

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 15 January 2013]

Ten years after Taliban rule, Afghanistan’s rights situation remains extremely poor. Armed groups routinely engage in extortion and violence against communities, while the Taliban continues to conduct attacks that indiscriminately or intentionally harm civilians. The situation for women’s rights is particularly bad, with threats and attacks by insurgents on women leaders, schoolgirls, and girls’ schools, and police arrests of women for “moral crimes” such as running away from forced marriage or domestic violence. Plans by the international community to decrease aid in coming years raise the risk that a bad human rights situation could become worse.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015


The National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence service, continued to arbitrarily arrest and detain suspects, denying them access to a lawyer, their families, the courts or other external bodies. The NDS faced credible allegations of torturing detainees and operating secret detention facilities. NATO ceased transferring detainees to Afghan forces after a UN report, issued in October, documented the systematic use of torture by NDS officers. According to the report, prisoners had been tortured in 47 NDS and police detention facilities across 22 provinces.

In August, family members of an Afghan man who had been detained by the NDS in Kabul for allegedly selling counterfeit currency told Amnesty International he had been arrested by the NDS in April and tortured into making a confession. The detainee, who cannot be identified for security reasons, was reportedly punched and kicked until he vomited blood and lost consciousness.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 25 December 2018]


Human Rights Reports » 2006 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 6, 2007

[accessed 15 January 2013]

[accessed 2 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices; however, there were reports of abuses. For example, human rights organizations reported that local authorities in Herat, Helmand, Badakhshan, and other locations continued to routinely torture and abuse detainees. Torture and abuse consisted of pulling out fingernails and toenails, burning with hot oil, beatings, sexual humiliation, and sodomy.

Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 5   Civil Liberties: 6   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 15 January 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 11 May 2020]

In a prevailing climate of impunity, government ministers as well as warlords in some provinces sanction widespread abuses by the police, military, and intelligence forces under their command, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extortion, and extrajudicial killings. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), which was formed in 2002 and focuses on raising awareness of human rights issues as well as monitoring and investigating abuses, receives hundreds of complaints of rights violations each year. In addition to the abuses by security forces, reported violations have involved land theft, displacement, kidnapping, child trafficking, domestic violence, and forced marriage.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Afghanistan ", Afghanistan.htm, [accessed <date>]