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article imageOp-Ed: US wants Afghans to adopt no-trial indefinite detentions

By Ken Hanly     Mar 11, 2013 in World
Kabul - Several incidents are souring relationships between the Afghan government and the US. Among the new disagreements, one concerns the transfer of prisoners to Afghan jurisdiction at the Parwan detention facility
There is ongoing conflict over the transfer of the Parwan detention facility from US to Afghan authority. The facility was called "Bagram" under US jurisdiction since it is at the Bagram Air Base. The Bagram facility had an unsavory reputation for torture and prisoner abuse.. The US has paused the transfer of the last couple of dozen Afghan detainees.
While the Afghan government is going ahead with what it calls a "splendid" transfer ceremony, not all the Afghan detainees will have been turned over as required under the memorandum of understanding between the US and Afghanistan on March 9. The agreement was demanded by Karzai and there is a six-month time-line for the transfer.
While most of the prisoners have been transferred, the US is holding back the transfer of about 30 prisoners. Jamie Graybeal, a spokesperson for the US coalition, said: “Some 99 percent of the detainees captured before 9 March have already been transferred to Afghan authority, but we have paused the transfer of the remaining detainees until our concerns are met.”
With typical transparency, the coalition would not say what the concerns were. However, some Afghan officials raised objections to the system of no-trial indefinite detention that the US insists the Afghans adopt. Just imagine if another country tried to impose from the outside a requirement that Americans agree to indefinite detention without trial before they would turn over some prisoners to US jurisdiction. This system was used at Bagram for prisoners they thought could not successfully be prosecuted but were too dangerous to release.
Apparently the latest friction arises after a meeting between Gen. John Allen the top commander of NATO forces in the presidential palace and Karzai. US ambassador. James Cunningham was also there. Allen sought assurances from Karzai that he would honor all parts of the memorandum. In other words the US still wants to control what happens in Afghanistan even though they will be leaving the country. They want to ensure that those the US had decided should not be released or tried not be released or tried..
While local news reports that there was a verbal clash at the meeting, a US coalition spokesperson said that “the unnamed source in the story provided a massive distortion of the reality of what occurred in this conversation between the president and Gen. Allen.”
However a brief report from Karzai's office hardly points to the conversation being all sweetness and light: “Any delay in its handover is considered a breach of Afghan national sovereignty.”
Other problems in the transfer involve several hundred prisoners taken since the memorandum was signed but are not covered by it. Some of these prisoners are still being held by the US. As well, there are about 50 foreign prisoners under US control. There is also disagreement as to how long it should be before detained Afghans should be given to Afghan authorities. An Afghan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson said that those detained by the US should be turned over to Afghan authorities within 72 hours. US commanders may not agree to this.
General Allen will not attend the transfer ceremonies nor will the commander of the US part of the detention facility--what remains of Bagram. Other new irritants between the US and Afghanistan include the capture and torture of a university student allegedly by a CIA strike force. Finally, a well-known Afghan actor was killed in a NATO air strike. The actor had been kidnapped and was being interrogated by militants at the time of the attack.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Hamid karzai, Parwan prison, Afghan war
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