[JURIST] A criminal court in Afghanistan is trying detainees previously held by the US detainees at Bagram Air Base and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archives] and is relying primarily on allegations and evidence provided by the US military, the New York Times reported Thursday. Other countries have so far refused to use evidence provided by the US military over concerns that it would not stand up in their courts, but US-provided information is being used to convict and sentence defendants to up to 20 years in prison. The trials reportedly often last less than an hour and take place without the aid of witnesses. Defense lawyers typically meet their clients only days before the trial and lack the resources to investigate the allegations of the case.
The Afghan court is located in the high-security Pul-e-Charki prison [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on the outskirts of Kabul. According to a report [PDF text; executive summary] released Thursday by Human Rights First, the court has tried 82 prisoners and convicted 65. Prosecutions have also been based on a 1987 Soviet-era Afghan security law, and Human Rights First expressed concern that defendants are not receiving fair trials [press release], saying that "so-called "evidence" being used to prosecute the repatriated detainees violates international fair trial standards and, in many cases, Afghan law." Though the court is not completely secret, Afghan officials have only allowed three outside observers, including two human rights investigators and a representative from a local United Nations office. The New York Times has more.