Kabul, 15 Jumadil Awwal/26 March 2013 (MINA) – Afghanistan has taken full control of Bagram military prison from the US, as US-led forces wind down more than a decade of war.
The handover on Monday (24/3) follows an agreement reached after a week of negotiations between US and Afghan officials, which includes assurances that inmates who “pose a danger” to Afghans and international forces will continue to be detained under Afghan law, according to Al Jazeera reports monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The move came as John Kerry, the US secretary of state, arrived in Kabul for a surprise trip, holding a news conference with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in which he said that both governments were “on the same page” when it came to peace talks with the Taliban, another source of tension in recent weeks.
Earlier, Chuck Hagel, the US defence secretary, spoke with Karzai by telephone about the detention facility, which is located next to Bagram airfield.
“The secretary welcomed president Karzai’s commitment that the transfer will be carried out in a way that assures the safety of the Afghan people and coalition forces by keeping dangerous individuals detained in a secure and humane manner in accordance with Afghan law,” Pentagon spokesman George Little said in a statement.
The US last year agreed to hand over responsibility for most of the more than 3,000 detainees at the prison to Afghanistan and held a transfer ceremony in September.
US soldiers remained at the prison, however, and controlled the area around it.
A formal ceremony transferring the last prisoners to Afghan custody collapsed at the last minute two weeks ago when General Joseph Dunford, the head of international forces in Afghanistan, called it off after Karzai rejected part of the transfer deal.
The collapse provoked an angry response from Karzai and embarrassed both sides as Hagel was starting his first official visit to the country as defense secretary.
The Afghan government raised concerns about keeping suspects in detention who had not faced any formal charges in court, terming any US insistence on suspected anti-state fighters being kept in detention as being a violation of sovereignty.
At the formal handover ceremony on Monday, Dunford said the transfer “highlights an increasingly confident, capable and sovereign Afghanistan”.
About three dozen non-Afghan detainees, including Pakistanis and other nationals, will remain in US hands under the new agreement. The exact number and nationality of all detainees at the base has never been made public.
According to Aljazeera, After Monday’s handover, the facility was renamed the Afghan National Detention Facility at Parwan and the US military said it would provide the Afghan army with advisers and $39m in funding.(T/P05/P03)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)