Bagram prison to be handed over to Afghan control, Karzai says
Afghanistan's Bagram prison, currently run by the United States-led international coalition, is to be handed over to Afghan control within a month, President Hamid Karzai announced Thursday, dpa reported.
A statement from his office said that the Afghan Constitutional Oversight Commission had prepared a report on Bagram prison, also known as Parwan Detention Facility, and the condition of its inmates.
"The report details many cases of violations of (the) Afghan Constitution and other applicable laws of the country, the relevant international conventions and human rights," the statement said.
Karzai had tasked the commission in 2010 to work on the transfer of the prison from the international coalition to Afghan authorities within a year, between January 2011 and January 2012.
"The commission was instructed to complete the full takeover process within a month ... starting today (Thursday) so that any more breach of Afghan sovereignty can be avoided," the statement said.
A member of the commission said they found that Afghan law was being violated, when they visited the prison twice last year. "This prison is established against the Afghan constitution," Abdul Qadir Adalatkhwa told dpa.
"We found two detention centres in the Bagram prison: One controlled by the Afghans and another one that was completely inaccessible to Afghan authorities," he said.
Some prisoners were held for more than two years without being charged, he said.
"Most of the people who were arrested by the coalition forces did not have their cases addressed for a long time," said Adalatkhwa, a former deputy justice minister.
"According to Afghan law, a detainee could be hold only for 10 months and the prisoner should be sent to court within that timeframe, but we saw prisoners spending as many as two years without any charge."
After the handover, Adalatkhwa said the Afghan Interior Ministry would be responsible for Bagram prison.
But human rights activists and Western officials have expressed concerns about the conditions of such detention facilities under Afghan authorities.
In October, a United Nations report on detention facilities run by the Interior Ministry accused the police and intelligence officers of torturing and mistreating detainees, some of whom were children.
Following the report, the NATO-led coalition temporarily halted the transfer of detainees to some of these facilities.
A US embassy official in Kabul said they were aware of Karzai's statement, but were not provided a copy of the commission's report.
Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall told dpa, "The United States has repeatedly made clear that it is committed to working with the Afghan government to complete a joint plan for the transition of detention operations in Afghanistan."
"The United States respects the human rights of detainees at the detention facility in Parwan," he said, but added that specific allegations of abuse should be addressed to ISAF, the international coalition.
The prison, which is run by the US military under the international coalition jurisdiction, is located in a sprawling US base in the Bagram area, north of Kabul.