Afghanistan Takes Control of Infamous Bagram Prison, Demands Afghanis’ Release from Camp Bastion

– Al Jazeera and Press TV


The US forces in Afghanistan handed over the full control of a key US-run detention center — the Bagram prison to the Afghan Defense Ministry, putting an end to a source of tension between Kabul and its main ally Washington.

An official ceremony was held there in Bagram prison, located next to the Bagram airbase, the main US military bastion 50 km north of Afghan capital Kabul.

Subsequently, Afghan authorities have released more than 2,156 prisoners since the US forces handed over the notorious prison to the Kabul government, Press TV reported.

The office of President Hamid Karzai said in a statement recently that the prisoners were acquitted after Afghan judicial authorities found no evidence of their involvement in militancy.

Several months ago, Washington and Kabul signed a deal under which the US consented to give control of the Bagram Detention Center in the northeastern province of Parwan to Afghan forces.

In November 2012, Karzai ordered Afghan forces to take control of the prison and accused US officials of failing to fully comply with the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding on Detentions, an official agreement between the US and Afghanistan detailing the transfer of  US detention centers in Afghan territory to Afghanistan.

Karzai has often accused the US of acting in cahoots with the Taliban to justify the presence of foreign troops in the war-torn country.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, in May 2010, confirmed reports on the existence of a secret detention facility at the Bagram Airbase, located 11 kilometers (7 miles) southeast of the city of Charikar in Afghanistan's Parwan Province.

Human rights groups had said that Bagram detainees were menaced, forced to strip naked and kept in solitary confinement in windowless cells.

The US-led invasion of Afghanistan took place in 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism, toppling the Taliban regime and establishing security in the country.

However, insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of foreign forces in the country.

President  Karzai  set a two-week deadline for the British armed forces to hand over all Afghans in the UK-run Camp Bastion to the Afghan government.

The announcement by Karzai’s spokesperson came after recent  revelations that the UK forces in Afghanistan are holding over 90 Afghan nationals without trial.

The presidential spokesperson says no foreign country has the right to run detention centers inside Afghanistan and that the detaining of Afghan citizens by foreign troops is against the country’s sovereignty.

The illegal detentions were made during military operations. The British kept the Afghans in Camp Bastion jail in the southern province of Helmand for a long time without trial, when  normally allowed to detain suspects for only four days.

The detainees’ lawyers said they have been held in custody without charge for up to 14 months, which amounts to unlawful detention and internment. Lawyers say the case is against international law and the British constitution.

General Zahir Azimi, a spokesman for the Afghan Defense Ministry, also recently criticized the detentions as “illegal” and “inhuman.”

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