The U.S. military has transferred control of Bagram prison to Afghan authorities. The prison will now be called Parwan detention facility.
Bagram prison houses more than 3,.000 Taliban and terrorism suspects. The transfer is part of a continuing process of transferring jurisdiction to local control before the withdrawal of most NATO forces in 2014. There was a small ceremony during the transfer apparently poorly attended by U.S. and NATO officers.
The Bagram prison has often been cited as a type of black site where prisoners have been abused. Some of the issues are discussed in a Digital Journal article earlier this year. Even now the U.S. is retaining control over some of the prisoners and reserves the right to retain and hold prisoners who are apprehended as part of their operations. Clearly, the U.S. is only allowing as much Afghan sovereignty as it is willing to cede.
For Karzai the handover is a matter of Afghan sovereignty but he has won only a partial victory on that score The U.S. is still believed to be holding hundreds more prisoners including around 50 nationals from third countries or foreign fighters as they are called. The U.S. is concerned that "high value" detainees might be released if handed over to Afghan authorities. There is still an obvious lack of trust between the U.S. and Afghan authorities. Karzai is not satisfied although he hailed the handover. The two sides are still in dispute over the status of 34 inmates in particular.
However, with Bagram already being suspected as an abuse site the retention of control of some prisoners by the U.S. worries some human rights groups. They fear that the site where prisoners are under U.S. control will become a twin to Guantanamo where suspects will be detained indefinitely without trial. There should also be concern about treatment under Afghan control as well since there have been reports of abuse by Afghans.
Colonel Robert Taradish the only U.S. official at the ceremony said:"We transferred more than 3,000 Afghan detainees into your custody... and ensured that those who would threaten the partnership of Afghanistan and coalition forces will not return to the battlefield."
The acting Afghan Defence Minister also spoke:"Our Afghan security forces are well trained and we are happy that today they are exercising their capability in taking the responsibility of prisoners independently and guarding the prisoners..We are taking the responsibility from foreign forces." Bagram was once located within the Bagram military base but was moved a few miles away in 2010 and now is known as Parwan Detention Centre . The centre is about 25 miles north of Kabul the capital.