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Afghan Taliban accused of subjecting captives to ill-treatment, torture

Taliban insurgents turn themselves in to Afghan forces, 2010. (Resolute Support Media/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Afghan captives held by the Taliban have been subjected to “ill-treatment and actions that may amount to torture,” according to the United Nations’ Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).

In a statement on May 26, UNAMA said it had interviewed 13 detainees from a group of 53 rescued last month from a Taliban-run detention facility in the Khas-Uruzgan district of the southern Uruzgan Province.

The captives freed in an April 25 operation by Afghan special forces were mainly members of the country’s security forces but also included government officials and civilians.

Most of the detainees had been held since 2018, with three since 2016, the statement said, adding that they were kept in poor conditions and subjected to forced labor.

It quoted the detainees as saying that the Taliban killed some of their captives.

“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.”

The statement said all the detainees reported being “shackled permanently” while in captivity and that some of them had “scars on their ankles.”

All but one of them reported being beaten.

Some freed captives reported that during the beatings the Taliban “demanded they provide information or confess to specific acts,” while the remainder said it was “punishment for what they were told was supporting the government, working with Americans or fighting” the militant group, according to UNAMA.

It cited the detainees as saying they were forced to labor for a minimum of seven hours a day, including making improvised explosive devices.

UNAMA head Tadamichi Yamamoto said he was “gravely concerned” about the allegations.

The top UN rights official in Afghanistan, Richard Bennett, urged the Taliban to apply international humanitarian law providing that “all persons who do not take direct part in hostilities, or who have ceased to do so, must always be treated humanely.”