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US Afghan detention regime against international law: IJN

US Afghan detention regime against international law: IJN

Sep 21, 2012 - 16:45

KABULinfo-icon (PANinfo-icon): The administrative detention regime the US government used at the Bagram Detention Centre is not only illegal under international law, but contravenes the Afghan Constitution in a number of respects, the International Justice Network (IJN) said on Friday.

A delegation of US-based attorney representing detainees at Bagram prison met this week with Afghan government officials on the transfer of prison facilities at the airbase, north of Kabul in central Parwan province, to the custody and control of Afghanistaninfo-icon, a IJN statement said.

Attorney Tina Foster, Executive Director of the International Justice Network (IJN), and Professor Ramzi Kassem, of the City University of New York School of Law, described the results of the meetings as "extremely positive".

They praised the Afghan government for its efforts to end the US government's unlawful detention without trial of more than 3,000 prisoners at Bagram.

IJN, along with a coalition of NGOs and legal scholars, had written to President Karzai in May to encourage the Afghan government to reject an administrative detention regime proposed by the United States in which individuals would be indefinitely detained on Afghan soil.

The statement said Afghan officials confirmed earlier this week that the US proposal had been rejected. "We applaud president Karzai's decision to firmly assert Afghan sovereignty in this matter," said Foster, adding there was no reason for Afghanistan to adopt such a flawed system because it was illegal under international law.

The detainees and the American attorneys briefed Afghan government officials regarding the situation of more than 50 non-Afghan citizens who remained in exclusive US custody at Bagram.

The inmates included many whom the United States brought to Afghanistan from other countries.

Afghan officials clarified that Afghanistan wanted these individuals to have access to a fair judicial process

"We can only commend president Karzai and the Afghan government for their courageous adherence to the rule of law for all in Afghanistan in this instance," stated Prof. Kassem. "We hope this will contribute to ending the US's continued use of Afghan territory for the purpose of operating a prison outside the law," said Kassem.

The delegation also discussed the fate of approximately 630 Afghan detainees who have not yet been transferred to the custody of the Afghan government in violation of the bilateral March, 2012 memorandum of Understanding between Afghanistan and the United States.

Foster pledged that IJN was committed to providing legal assistance to families of detainees who wished to challenge their continued illegal detention in exclusive US custody.

"We have offered our cooperation and support to the Afghan government, to the prisoners and their families, and we will continue to fight for the rights of those detainees who are denied access to their own legal system by a foreign power."


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