Karzai accuses US of breaching prison pact

KABUL – President Hamid Karzai has accused the United States of breaching an agreement to transfer more than 3,000 detainees at a controversial prison north of Kabul to Afghan control.

Kabul had hailed the transfer of Bagram prison, sometimes called the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan, as a victory for national sovereignty as Nato prepares to hand over security and withdraw combat troops by late 2014.

Karzai had demanded authority over the prison as a condition for signing a long-term agreement covering Afghan-US relations after the pull-out of combat troops in 2014.

But prisoners found innocent by courts were still being held and more people had been captured by American forces against the provisions of the agreement, a statement from the president’s office said Monday.

The president condemned what he called “a serious breach of the memorandum of understanding” with the United States after the completion of a two-month timeline agreed for the full transfer of the prison.

But Washington hit back saying both sides had made “reciprocal commitments”in the memorandum of understanding.said under the deal both sides had “to provide for the security of Afghan citizens… coalition forces, by keeping captured enemy combatants from returning to the battlefield.”

“We do have a number of cases that we are continuing to work through with the Afghan government to ensure that commitments are kept on both sides.”

Nuland would not be drawn on how many cases remained to be resolved, or whether the main US concern was that some “enemy combatants” would just be released back into the public.

“The circumstances are different in different cases,” she told journalists.“But we need to ensure, as we finish this process of releasing all of the prisoners into Afghan custody, that both sides are fulfilling the full intent and spirit of the memorandum that we signed.”

The US formally handed control of the prisoners to Afghan authorities on September 10, but disagreements are said to remain over the fate of hundreds of inmates.

Under the agreement, Afghan authorities will need to advise the United States of plans to release any prisoners and “consider favourably” objections if the Americans consider such inmates could engage in “terrorist activity”.

In turn, the Afghans would give the US and humanitarian bodies access to detainees to monitor their treatment under international humanitarian law.

“The president assigned the minister of defence, the attorney general, and the chief commander of Bagram prison to take all required and urgent measures to ensure a full Afghanisation of the prison affairs and a complete transfer of its authority,” Karzai’s office added.

Human rights campaigners have regularly criticised the prison under US control, saying it fails to comply with international norms as some inmates are detained arbitrarily without trial or knowledge of the charges against them.


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