Showing posts with label prisons. Show all posts
Showing posts with label prisons. Show all posts

Friday, December 12, 2014

U.S. Ends Control of Afghan Prisons

The U.S. military no longer operates any detention centers or prisons in Afghanistan. As of December 10th, when the last remaining prisoners (3) were released from U.S. custody, the detention of insurgents is solely a responsibility of the Afghans. The detention of prisoners by the U.S. was a source of tension between President Karzai and the U.S. military. When the U.S. transferred insurgents over to the Afghans many of them were released (only to rejoin the fight). Read more in "U.S. Ends Control of Afghan Prisons", Gandhara Blog (Radio Free Europe), December 11, 2014.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pol-i-Charkhi Prison - "Incomplete Project"

The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) has released a report entitled Pol-i-Charkhi Prison: After 5 Years and $18.5 Million, Renovation Project Remains Incomplete, SIGAR 15-11 Inspection Report, October 2014. The Department of State paid the Al-Watan Construction Company (AWCC) $18.5 million for work performed on a contract (awarded in June 2009) valued at $20.2 million. Unfortunately AWCC only completed 50% of the required work. The prison was designed and built in 1973 for 5,000 inmates but currently houses about 7, 400 in crowded conditions. The State Department says that it will fix the problem with another $11 million to finish renovations and $5 million to remedy waste water disposal. Hopefully they will assign a state employee (with some contracting, accounting, and construction experience) who will provide proper oversight on the project. You can read or download the report at the link below off SIGAR's website:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Russian Prisoner at BAF to Be Tried in U.S.

There are 13 non-Afghans still residing in the Parwan detention center adjacent to Bagram Air Field (BAF). One of them is a Russian who will soon be brought to the United States for trial on several charges relating to a 2009 incident. The prisoner is a Russian veteran of the Soviet war in Afghanistan who deserted to the resistance. He stayed in the country and was captured in 2009 after an attack on Afghan Border Police and U.S. soldiers in Khost province. Read more in "Prisoner in Afghanistan to be tried in US", Star-Telegram, October 23, 2014.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pakistani Prisoners Freed From U.S. Custody

Fourteen Pakistani prisoners were released from the Bagram Prison in Afghanistan. They were under U.S. custody and were repatriated to Pakistan. Reportedly they are under the control of Pakistan authorities. Read more in "14 Pakistanis freed from U.S. custody in Afghanistan's Bagram prison", Reuters, September 20, 2014.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Prisoner Releases Questioned by Afghan Military

There is tension among the Afghan leadership in government, the ministries, the police, and the army on the issue of prisoners. This tension exists because (either through incompetence, corruption, or political objectives) Taliban prisoners are being released. Many of these released prisoners are resuming the fight on the battlefield against the army and police forces that had already captured them once - sometimes at great cost.

President Karzai has released many of the Taliban prisoners - presumably as an attempt to help the reconciliation process with the Taliban insurgents. There is no indication that these prisoner releases over the past few years have had any effect in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table or in winning any concessions. In fact, members of the High Peace Council - the Afghan organization charged with reconciliation and reintegration - have been targeted repeatedly by the insurgents.

The Afghan judicial system is under-resourced, inadequately staffed, lacking sufficient training, subject to coercion by the insurgents, easily influenced by warlords and power-brokers, and extremely corrupt. The U.S. (and ISAF) efforts to introduce warrant-based targeting and Evidence-Based Operations (EvBO) have had mixed results. Establishing Rule of Law (RoL) within a counterinsurgency environment is essential. The introduction of EvBO is an admirable goal; but it seems that the Afghan police force (lack of training, forensics equipment, and inexperience) is not up to the task and the judicial system is inept and corrupt. Perhaps the introduction of EvBO was a step too far too early in this very corrupt Afghan society.

Read more about this prisoner release issue in "Afghans question prisoner releases amid violent fighting season", Stars and Stripes, September 12, 2014 here.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Afghans to Release Taliban Prisoners Despite US Objections

The Afghans will soon release about 88 prisoners held in a detention camp now run by the Afghans. The detention camp at Bagram Air Field was run by the United States but turned over to the Afghans in March 2013. The Afghans are reneging on a promise to the United States not to release any of the hard-core Taliban prisoners who have been detained for attacks against coalition forces. Read more in "US lists crimes of alleged insurgents slated for release in Afghanistan", Stars and Stripes, January 7, 2014.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Deal Reached on Bagram Prison Transfer to Afghans

A deal has finally been reached on the Bagram detention / prison transfer from the United States military to the Afghan military. The transfer had been held up because of fears that Afghanistan would release prisoners who the U.S. feels are enduring threats to Afghanistan and ISAF. In the past, the Karzai regime has released hardened Taliban fighters with many of them rejoining the Taliban shortly afterwards. In addition, there are concerns about the treatment that prisoners receive under the Afghan prison system - with widespread reports of abuse and torture. The prison transfer had become an "issue of national pride" to Karzai and has been a major focus of negotiations for some weeks. Read more in "U.S. and Afghans Reach Deal on Bagram Prison Transfer", The New York Times, March 23, 2013.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Agreement May be Reached on Bagram Detention Transfer Soon

The disagreement between Karzai and ISAF over the Bagram detention facility continues although there are hints that it may be resolved soon. The stumbling block appears to be a small group of hard-core Taliban fighters. The US wants assurances from Karzai that they will not be released. Karzai isn't making any promises on that point - therefore the delay in the detention facility transfer. Read more in "US, Afghan detainee deal done by next week, says ISAF", The Hill Blog, March 20, 2013.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Karzai and U.S. in Dispute Over High-Risk Prisoners

President Karzai and the United States are in a serious dispute over the fate of some three dozen prisoners held by the U.S. in Afghanistan. The prisoners pose a considerable risk to the United States and to the military effort in Afghanistan. The fear of the U.S. is that Karzai will gain control over the prisoners and then release them in order to appease Taliban officials. Karzai is linking the prisoner dispute to other matters of concern that are currently being negotiated with the Afghans - such as the status of forces agreement and long-term security agreement post-2014. Learn more in "Dispute over high-risk prisoners threatens to disrupt U.S.-Afghan talks", The Washington Post, March 14, 2013.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Karzai: Afghanistan's Erratic and Irrational Leader

Many of President Karzai's statements about the United States and ISAF have been highly questioned. The most recent bombshell was his charge that the United States and the Taliban were colluding to keep Afghanistan in a state of de-stabilization. This would provide an excuse for ISAF to remain in the country beyond 2014 as occupiers. Some of his more recent actions include ordering the removal of special operations Soldiers from Wardak province, forbidding his Army and police to call in ISAF close air support (CAS), and demanding the turnover of the Bagram detention center. All of these recent demands are counterproductive to helping the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) take over the lead in security operations. The ANSF continues to need ISAF air support (although their artillery is becoming more proficient), it's specialized units and the ALP need their SOF advisers, and the Afghan prison system is notorious for instances of abuse, torture, and the release of hardened Taliban fighters through corruption.

The new ISAF commander is in a difficult position. He needs to navigate the political minefield strewn about by Karzai very carefully. On one hand he needs to recognize the sovereignty of Afghanistan and on the other provide the military advise and assistance and conduct the military operations to keep the Taliban at bay until the ANSF is ready to take over 100% of the lead in security operations.

General Dunford has provided some insight into the perplexing Karzai problem in a recent news release by the U.S. Department of Defense. He cites the ongoing negotiations with the Afghans about the turnover of the detention facility in Parwan and the transition of security operations in Wardak to the Afghans that are taking place at the ministerial level. He states that ISAF relations are good with the Afghan Ministry of Interior (MoI) and Ministry of Defense (MoD).

Dunford has concerns about the Taliban information operations campaign - and indicates that ISAF has not done well in fighting the perception that the Western nations are occupiers in Afghanistan for the long-term and that ISAF is abandoning Afghanistan with it's withdrawal (two conflicting views but widely held). Dunford believes that there is a psychological aspect to the transition that has affected some of the Afghan leadership. You can read more of his comments on this topic in "Dunford: Uncertainty Poses Greatest Risk to Transition", American Forces Press Service, March 11, 2013.

It may be that the "uncertainty" cited by General Dunford is causing a "messaging problem" with the Afghan leader. However, a more likely story is that the irrational and erratic Karzai is conducting "appeasement operations" in hopes that the Taliban who do come to the negotiation table in the next few years will look favorably upon his hostile pronouncements against the Western allies. Other Afghan leaders have swung at the end of a rope from a Kabul lamp post after their foreign backers left and Karzai may not want that same fate.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Karzai Slams U.S. - Says U.S. and Taliban are Conspiring

Karzai has once again come out with strong statements against the United States. This time he says that the Taliban and the United States are conspiring to keep Afghanistan in a state of turmoil. As silly as that sounds there are those out there that try to explain Karzai's outlandish behavior. For instance, The New York Times has a news article that says Karzai is offended and embarrassed by the stalled turnover of the Bagram detention facility in Parwan province and the U.S. insistence that special operations forces continue to operate in Afghanistan post-2014. The Times also points out that Karzai sees the Taliban as a real player post-2014 long after ISAF pulls out - so he has to say the right things to appease them. Read more in "Afghan Leader Says U.S. Abets Taliban's Goal", The New York Times, March 11, 2013.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Torture Widespread in Afghan Prisons

An Afghan government panel investigating claims of a United Nations report detailing widespread torture in Afghanistan prisons has determined that there are rampant abuses occurring. Many of the abuses are perpetrated by the Afghan National Police (ANP). Read more in "Government Panel in Afghanistan Confirms Widespread Torture of Detainees", The New York Times, February 11, 2013.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bagram Detention Facility: Some Details about the MOU

The United States and the Afghan government reached a last minute deal on the proposed turnover of the Bagram detention facility where over 3,000 detainees are currently held under the control of the U.S. President Karzai has been strongly insisting that the facility be turned over to Afghan control. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) recently signed transitions this control to the Afghans over a six-month long period. Read a note of concern on the proposed turnover by Kate Clark of the Afghanistan Analysts Network entitled "The Bagram Memorandum: Handing over the other Guantanamo", AAN, March 21, 2012.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Worries on Transfer of Parwan Detention Facility to Afghan Control

President Karzai has made the transfer of the Parwan detention facility located at Bagram Air Field (just north of Kabul) one of his central themes during the talks on the strategic agreement with the U.S. to be signed soon. The U.S. caved on this issue agreeing to transfer the facility to Afghan control within six months. Many observers have grave concerns about the ability of the Afghans to run a prison effectively, and to ensure the detainees actually stay detained. In 2011 over 500 Taliban detainees escaped from a prison in Kandahar. In the past the Ministry of Justice ran the prison system in Afghanistan; however the prisons now come under the control of the Ministry of Interior. Unfortunately the Ministry of Interior does not seem to be doing a better job. The Afghans run the Pol-i-Charki prison with money, equipment, and mentorship from the U.S. - but they are often accused of human rights abuses and misconduct. Numerous abuses occur especially with the illegal body cavity searches of women visitors.

Read more in "US aid cutoff fails to end Afghan prison searches", Boston Globe, March 17, 2012 and "Afghan Prison's Invasive Searches of Female Vistors Stir Fear of Slipping Rights", The New York Times, March 16, 2012.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Detention Center in Afghanistan to Come Under Afghan Control

A U.S. run prison (detention center for combatants) will be turned over to the Afghanistan authorities in a phased planned that will span six months.  Many western military observers worry about the security of an Afghan-run prison system citing many human rights abuses and corruption.  Members of the Taliban have frequently been able to bribe their way out of detention in Afghan prisons.  Read more in "U.S. reaches agreement to turn over Afghan detention center",, March 9, 2012 and "US gives up Afghan jail in deal to stay after 2014", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 11, 2012.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

US to Handover Prisons to Afghans in Six Months

The U.S. and the Afghan governments have agreed that the U.S. will hand over control of the U.S. detention facilities to the Afghans. The detention facility in Parwan holds almost 3,000 war prisoners - mostly insurgents. The Parwan facility is next to Bagram Air Field just north of Kabul. While the transfer will be a good sign that Afghanistan is enjoying more sovereignty it will be troublesome for human rights activist who worry about the treatment the prisoners will soon be receiving. In addition to poor treatment of prisoners the coalition should also be concerned with poor security. Afghan prison officials and guards have an extremely poor record of keeping the prisoners in prisoner.  Last year over 500 Taliban escaped from a prison in Kandahar.

Read more in "US, Afghans reach deal on handover of prisons", Fox News, March 9, 2012.