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US holding Afghanistan detainees in cages without charge: report

[JURIST] Inmates at the main US base in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] are being held in "primitive conditions, indefinitely and without charges" according to a Sunday New York Times report [text]. Over 500 terror suspects are held at Bagram Air Base [JURIST news archive], located north of Kabul. The Times says that inmates live by the dozen in large wire cages and have no access to lawyers or a right to hear the charges against them. Their names have not been revealed and the US military has not allowed international human rights groups access to them, except for the International Committee of the Red Cross [advocacy website]. Some inmates have been at the Bagram Detention Facility [Wikipedia backgrounder] for as long as two or three years even though the US military maintains that detainees are released regularly once they are no longer of intelligence value. The number of inmates at Bagram has increased dramatically in the last couple of years, from 100 in 2004 to as many as 600 in 2005 since the US government has decided to stop the flow of detainees to Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] because of a US Supreme Court decision that detainees had some basic due process rights. The US military has classified the inmates at Bagram as enemy combatants [JURIST news archive] and maintains they are not covered by the Geneva Conventions [reference guide] but a spokesman stressed Sunday in response to the NYT story that they are treated humanely and provided the "best possible conditions." AP has more.

Meanwhile elsewhere in Afghanistan Sunday, hundreds of inmates have taken over parts of Policharki Prison [AP backgrounder; IWPR backgrounder; also "Pul-e-Charkhi"], a high-security facility housing some Taleban and al-Qaeda members. Over 800 Afghan soldiers, along with NATO peacekeepers, have been deployed around the prison and negotiations are underway. The number of casualties is unknown although the BBC is reporting [report] that seven people were killed during the rioting. AP has more.

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