NATO officials in Afghanistan stopped transferring detainees to Afghan custody in several provinces this week in response to a U.N. investigation that found evidence of systematic torture at some detention centers, the military command said Tuesday night.
The move represents a serious setback for the United States and its allies in Afghanistan at a time when the international community is beginning to pull out troops and shift more responsibility for security to the Afghans.
The findings of a report on detainee abuse, which the U.N. mission here intends to make public in coming days, will probably embolden insurgent groups, which have sought to portray Afghan officials as lackeys of Western crusaders.
Senior NATO officials decided to stop transferring detainees to Afghan custody in several key provinces after human rights investigators with the United Nations briefed them on the findings. The review of detention facilities had been underway for nearly a year.
A NATO official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue, called the detainee-transfer suspension “prudent” and said it will be in place until military officials “can verify the observations” in the report.