In a statement released today Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded that the United States hand over the prison at Bagram Air Base, including all of the detainees therein, within a month.
Karzai’s statement said US control of the prison and open-ended detention of Afghan citizens violated the Afghan Constitution as well as international covenants. He also cited reports of human rights abuse at the facility.
Bagram has become a growing human rights concern, both because of the treatment of the detainees and because it has become a legal black hole for detainees, with the US bringing captives into the country then claiming that they don’t have the same trivial legal protections as even those in Guantanamo since Bagram is in a foreign country.
NATO dismissed Karzai’s statement alleging abuse, saying any such claims should be addressed to them directly. The US did not indicate if they intend to comply with the demand, saying only that they are “committed to working with the Afghan government to complete a joint plan for transition of detention operations.”
Transferring Bagram and giving Karzai’s government the power to release detainees could conceivably give them some power, but the large number of detainees at what has become a de facto black-site is likely to make a quick transfer uncomfortable for the Obama Administration.