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Afghan detainees in Kandahar prison end hunger strike over lack of legal process

[JURIST] An estimated 200-300 detainees held by Afghan authorities at the Afghan-controlled men's prison in Kandahar who went on hunger strike [AP report] last week protesting the slow nature of the Afghanistan judicial system ended their action Monday after a visit by Afghan lawmakers who said their cases would be reviewed by new judges. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission [advocacy website] said previously that the prisoners were demanding speedy trials and the advice of counsel at court hearings. It is unclear how many Kandahar detainees, if any, have been tried before a court of law; rights groups have complained that many rulings are made on the basis of allegations by US authorities. AP quoted Afghanistan Justice Minister Sarwar Danesh as saying Sunday that "The prisoners have reason to criticize because the justice system is working a little slowly." He said that the country's top judge met Saturday with the provincial governor over the issue.

Most of the striking detainees are suspected of involvement with the Taliban; some have been held without trial for more than two years. An Afghan lawmaker quoted by AP said that some 47 of the protesting detainees had sewn up their own mouths during the action. The International Committee of the Red Cross visited detainees at the prison on Saturday and Sunday, providing medication [BBC report] to forty inmates. AP has more.

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