The Afghan government on Wednesday strongly rejected allegations that its security agencies tortured detainees _ charges that were apparently raised in an unpublished U.N. report.
The allegations prompted NATO to temporarily suspend some transfers of detainees from international to Afghan-run detention centers. They also threatened to further erode the already shaky relationship between President Hamid Karzai's government and the international community.
Interior Minister Besmillah Mohammadi and Rahmatullah Nabil, head of the Afghan intelligence service, described the NATO decision to suspend detainee transfers as politically motivated and aimed at slowing down the transition of security responsibilities to the Afghan government.
Afghanistan is gradually taking over responsibility for the country's security from the U.S.-led military coalition as foreign forces aim to withdraw all their combat troops by the end of 2014.
The Afghan government "believes that any move to halt the transfer of prisoners under any false excuses is a serious blow to the transition process," Mohammadi and Nabil said in a joint statement.
The two officials said that in the past, the United Nations in Afghanistan had assured the authorities that their detention facilities complied with international human rights standards. They also complained the U.N. had not given a copy of the report to the government,
Some of the details of the report have leaked out ahead of its publication, prompting the responses. The U.N. has said it is still working on finalizing the report and will publish it once it has been completed.
Mohammadi said the government had found out about the allegations in the media. The report apparently included "claims of torture such as electric shocks, threats of sexual assault and physical torture such as the ripping out of nails in Afghan detention facilities."
"The Afghan security agencies strongly reject the allegations," Mohammadi said, adding that international agencies, including the United Nations, had regularly visited Afghan detention facilities.
Following such visits, they assured authorities of "their satisfactory findings as to the situation in the prisons and compliance with human rights standards," he said.
The U.N. has refused to release the report but a spokesman for the mission in Kabul said late Tuesday that the U.N. had presented the core of the report's findings to Afghan authorities.
U.N. spokesman Dan McNorton said the findings did not suggest an institutional or government policy of mistreatment.