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That decree, issued late Saturday, came after a government delegation agreed with a U.N. report that found widespread abuse in Afghan prisons more than a year after reforms were promised. The Afghan government previously maintained that torture occurred rarely, if at all, but said it would put more oversight in place to make sure prisoners were not being abused.

After a two-week fact-finding mission, an Afghan government delegation said earlier this month that it had found credible evidence that close to half of the prisoners the delegation interviewed were tortured.

Mr. Karzai said in a 12-article decree that existing laws needed to be implemented in order to prevent torture, such as access to defense lawyers and limits on how long a suspect can be held without charge. Mr. Karzai also said that all interrogations should be videotaped and that district-level detention officials should get higher salaries.

The decree stressed the importance of prosecuting anyone accused of mistreatment. It also calls on the country’s chief justice, the interior minister, the head of the intelligence service and the justice minister to produce a report every three months on their progress on these reforms.

• Associated Press writers Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez contributed to this article.