US Expands Afghan Prison It Promised to Hand Over to Kabul

The broken promise is a sign of how little progress has been made in Afghanistan

Instead of handing over the main detention center in Afghanistan to Kabul’s control, the U.S. is expanding the facility and keeping it under Washington’s control.

U.S. officials have promised for years to give jurisdiction for various U.S.-run prisons to the Afghan government, but after stalling time and time again those promises seem to have been abandoned. Up to $35 million has been allocated for the detention facility at Parwan on the outskirts of Bagram Air Field to expand it to house 2,000 detainees, according to Wired’s Danger Room.

The U.S. military has said Kabul isn’t ready to take control of the prisons and that it now plans to administer the hand-off in 2014, when the Obama administration claims most combat troops will withdraw.

An Afghan investigative commission accused the American military of abusing detainees in the Bagram prison facilities and reiterated President Hamid Karzai’s demand that the U.S. turn the detainees over to Afghan custody.

Most of the 3,000 or so detainees the U.S. holds in the main Bagram facility have been physically abused, have not been charged, have seen no evidence against them, and do not have the right to be represented by a lawyer. Attorney for Human Rights First Daphne Eviatar said in a recent CBS interview that “It’s worse than Guantanamo, because there are fewer rights.”

The facilities that Kabul does have control of, however, are not any better. Back in October, the United Nations released a report which found that detainees in Afghan-controlled prisons are hung from the ceilings by their wrists, severely beaten with cables and wooden sticks, have their toenails torn off, are treated with electric shock, and even have their genitals twisted until they lose consciousness. The study, which covered 47 facilities sites in 22 provinces, found “a compelling pattern and practice of systematic torture and ill-treatment” during interrogation by U.S.-supported Afghan authorities.

Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for