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Senior Afghan Official Denies Prison Torture Claims

Afghan Deputy Minister of Justice Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai
KABUL -- Afghanistan's deputy justice minister has rejected claims that torture is widespread in the country's prisons, RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan reports.

The allegations -- said to be included in a forthcoming UN report -- prompted NATO forces in Afghanistan to suspend detainee transfers to some Afghan prisons.

The BBC said the report describes how prisoners have been abused -- beaten and given electric shocks -- at numerous detention facilities run by Afghanistan's intelligence service and by Afghan police.

But Deputy Justice Minister Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai told RFE/RL that the ministry "strongly denies" the claims.

"Our prison staff is well-trained and professional and abides by Afghan and international law, which forbids the use of torture,” he said. “Our inmates are given the freedom to move around, see visitors, and to participate in peaceful strikes.”

On September 7, General Carsten Jacobson, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, said the alliance stopped prisoner transfers in the south about two months ago when the allegations of widespread torture first came to light.

The facilities are said to include those run by the Afghan National Department of Security (NDS) in Herat, Khost, Lagman, Kapisa, and Takhar, as well as two prisons run by local Afghan police in Konduz and Tarin Kowt.

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