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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Afghanistan authorities commit to taking over former Bagram detention facility
Ximena Marinero at 12:24 PM ET

[JURIST] Afghan officials on Saturday signed [press release] a memorandum of understanding to delineate the process through which Afghanistan will take over the US military's Parwan Detention Center that was formerly housed at Bagram Air Base [official website; JURIST news archive]. The transfer of responsibilities may take place within six months [Al Jazeera report], and will initially rely on the Afghan Ministry of Defense to run the facility. Afghan President Hamid Karzai [official profile; JURIST news archive] will determine the timing of the eventual transfer of complete responsibility for the Parwan Detention Centre to the Central Prisons Directorate in the Ministry of Justice. Afghan and US officials purport that the move will strengthen security and the rule of law in Afghanistan.

The Parwan Detention Centre was opened [JURIST report] in November, to replace the detention facility formerly located in a hangar at the Bagram Air Base. Even after the opening of the new detention facility, international human rights activists called on [press release] the Obama administration to ensure that detention policies conform to international law. Reports of abuses at Bagram during the previous administration included the death of two detainees after severe beatings and prolonged detentions without trial or access to legal counsel. The Parwan Detention Centre instituted a system of personal representatives [JURIST report] who are not lawyers but would explain the process to detainees and assist them in gathering any evidence to challenge their detention.

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