UNAMA: torture, without exception, is unacceptable

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture by calling for all allegations of torture in Afghanistan to be properly investigated.

UNAMA’s chief human rights official, Norah Niland, calls for those responsible for such abuse to be brought to account. Niland says: “Torture, without exception, is unacceptable. UNAMA will support and work with the Afghan authorities to help ensure the government’s commitment to prohibit and inhibit torture is properly upheld as laid out in the Constitution.”

Niland continues: “As Afghanistan moves towards greater democratisation, while continuing to suffer the effects of armed conflict, it is important to re-iterate that it is the duty of the state to prevent, prohibit, investigate and penalise all acts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.”

“All parties to the conflict, including international actors engaged in detention in Afghanistan, should observe international legal standards and allow for outside scrutiny. The prohibition on torture equally applies to anti-government elements,” says Niland.

UNAMA has been working closely with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission for the last six years and actively engages in efforts to enhance the protection of civilians, advance the rights of women and girls, improve access to justice, help safeguard freedom of expression, and supports implementation of the transitional justice agenda.

UNAMA’s strengthened and sharpened mandate from the United Nations Security Council in March this year ensures that the protection of human rights in Afghanistan remains a top priority for the mission. 


  • Article 29 of the Constitution of Afghanistan states: “Persecution of human beings shall be forbidden. No one shall be allowed to carry out or order torture, even for discovering the truth from another individual who is under investigation, arrest, detention or has been convicted to be punished.  Punishment contrary to human dignity shall be prohibited.”
  • Article 30 of the Constitution of Afghanistan states: “A statement, confession or testimony obtained from an accused or of another individual by means of compulsion shall be invalid. Confession to a crime is a voluntary admission before an authorised court by an accused in a sound state of mind.”
  • Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” 
  • Afghanistan is a party to a number of international instruments that prohibit torture, including the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • For further information, media should contact UNAMA Spokesperson’s Office:
      • Nilab Mobarez on 079 766 2503 for Dari and Pashto;
      • Dan McNorton on 0700 250 358 for English.