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Karzai Demands Return of Afghan Detainees from 'Secret' UK Prison

'Unlawful detention' of Afghan men by UK troops draws strong parallels to Guantanamo

by
Common Dreams staff

(Photo: Pool/ Reuters)

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is demanding the return of nearly 100 Afghan men who are being held in secret, without charges in the country's UK-run Camp Bastion—a situation with obvious parallels to the United State's Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility. 

"We are living in Afghanistan and we are talking about Afghans detained on Afghan soil and held in Afghanistan. According to our laws this is a breach of sovereignty," Karzai spokesman Aimal Faizi told the Guardian. "The UK … is another country with its own laws and sovereignty, [which] don't mean anything here in Afghanistan."

Their report continues:

This month the defense secretary, Philip Hammond, announced that Kabul and London had agreed safeguards to protect prisoners from torture, and handovers would start after three weeks.

The delay is a requirement to allow for any legal challenges to the decision, and is almost certain to stretch far longer, as lawyers acting for the prisoners have said they will challenge the decision in court.

But Karzai has demanded custody of the prisoners by 22 June.

Revelations about the UK's "secret detention facility" were revealed late last month after lawyers for the detainees launched a habeaus corpus application demanding that a court determine whether the prisoners' detainment is illegal.

According to the attorneys, the prisoners' treatment by the British troops amounts to "unlawful detention and internment." A number of the men have reportedly been held for up to 14 months without charge or any indication of a trial date, and many others have not yet been allowed to consult a lawyer after months spent in prison.

Despite claims of "unlawful detention" on the part of the British government, the British Embassy insists their prolonged internment of the Afghan men was due to reportedly widespread torture in the Afghan prisons.

"We must be satisfied that they do not face a real risk of serious mistreatment or torture. As a matter of priority the UK has been working with the Afghan government to identify a safe transfer route," the Embassy said.

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