Afghan detainees still being tortured, U.N. says

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KABUL, Afghanistan -- Suspected insurgents continue to be tortured at numerous Afghan detention facilities, the United Nations reported Sunday.

More than half of the 635 detainees questioned by U.N. investigators in the 12 months ending in October were ill-treated or tortured, including being subjected to severe beatings or electric shocks, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said.

The allegations, which the Afghan government calls "exaggerated," are likely to complicate discussions about the handling of detainees, a source of debate between the United States and Afghanistan as the countries prepare for the departure of most foreign troops next year.

Many of the suspected fighters who end up in Afghan custody are captured by U.S. and allied troops. The NATO-led force said it has suspended the transfer of detainees to the facilities identified in the U.N. report and is working with Afghan authorities to address abuses.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has frequently maintained that the handling of detainees is a question of national sovereignty. During discussions with President Barack Obama this month, he reiterated his demand that all Afghan prisoners be turned over to Afghan authorities.

In a written response, the Afghan government said it had taken steps to ensure the lawful treatment of detainees, including issuing policy directives, increasing training and monitoring, and reassigning personnel.

Though it conceded that some abuses were possible, the government said insurgents were coached to say they had been mistreated if captured.

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