Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, October 17th, 2019

UN, Karzai Hit Stalemate over Prison Probe

UN, Karzai Hit Stalemate over Prison Probe

KABUL - President Hamid Karzai's spokesman has accused the United Nations of not cooperating with a government investigation into abuse in Afghan jails saying that requests for assistance have been declined or ignored.

However, the UN says that it is cooperating as much as it can under the obligations of its charter.

Aimal Faizi rejected the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) report of widespread abuse in Afghan prisons as "not true" and called on the organization to defend its report by assisting the government delegation in the Karzai-ordered investigation.

"UNAMA's report is not true," Faizi said in an interview with TOLOnews.

"We have formed a committee to study the issue and we asked the UNAMA and UN to send their representatives but they didn't. We asked them to give us the prisoners' names who were tortured but they didn't. We asked them to give us the names of those authorities who are responsible for torture but they didn't. So it means they didn't cooperate at all and they must defend their report," he added.

The head of the human rights unit in UNAMA, Georgette Gagnon, said "the UN met with the delegation last week, advised how the UN can cooperate with it and sent a letter to the delegation in this regard. "

"The UN is cooperating with the delegation and helping the investigation as permitted under the international and legal rules and procedures the UN is obliged to operate under. The UN, not only in Afghanistan but in any country, cannot be a member of a government investigation delegation and has privileges and immunities regarding information it has," Gagnon said in an email to TOLOnews.

The email stressed that "the UN is engaging with the delegation in an effort to assist and help the government and all Afghan people to improve rule of law and human rights in the country consistent with the UN's mandate."

Karzai last week assigned a delegation to investigate the findings and allegations of the UN report on torture, abuse and ill-treatment in detention facilities run by the Ministry of Interior [MOI] and the National Directorate of Security [NDS].

A statement from Karzai's office on Jan 22, said the delegation led by Abdul Qader Adalatkhwa, Deputy Director of the Constitutional Oversight Commission and included UN envoys as well as legal advisers from the MOI, NDS, the Legal Board of the Presidential palace and the Director of Law & Political Science Department of Kabul University.

However, the UN was not consulted before this statement was released.

According to Karzai's office, the delegation has two weeks to investigate UNAMA's "claims of torture, mistreatment, death threats and sexual abuse in prisons, and any faults or misconduct during questioning and trial of detainees. It is also assigned to put to use all sorts of resources available to ascertain the truth of such practices and identify its perpetrators."

Meanwhile, American officials have agreed on a date to fully transfer Bagram prison to the Afghan government, according to Faizi.

"This morning our commander in Bagram jail reported to us that the American officials told him that they are ready as soon as possible hand over all responsibilities of the jail to the Afghan Government.

They also agreed on a date but I cannot say anything about the time because it maybe change," Faizi told TOLOnews.

This comes ten days after the US and ISAF said they will suspend transfer of detainees to Afghan detention centers after a investigation reported widespread abuse and use of torture in Afghan prisons.

Faizi dismissed the statements emphasizing that any type of foreign prison in Afghanistan is not acceptable.

"We didn't receive any official letter from ISAF yet that they suspended the process. This process is continuing and there is no reason for it to be suspended," Faizi said. "When the presidents of two counties agreed to on the hand over in Washington, then lower-ranking officers in Kabul cannot do that," he added.

*This story was updated Thursday 31 Jan to include the response from the UN to Aimal Faizi's statement that the organization is not cooperating. It was first published Wednesday 30 Jan with only Faizi's comments. It was originally titled "UN 'Uncooperative' on Jail Probe as Bagram Transfer Imminent: Faizi" (Tolo News)