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US to build new prison in Afghanistan

[JURIST] The US plans to build a new military detention facility in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive] as a replacement for its current make-shift prison at Bagram Air Base [GlobalSecurity backgrounder; JURIST news archive], the New York Times reported [NYT report] Saturday. The $60-million-dollar, 40-acre facility will have the capacity to hold as many as 1,100 prisoners, and is intended to provide more humane living conditions [JURIST report] for the more than 600 detainees the US currently holds in the country. According to the Times, the revelation signals a significant departure from previous statements made by the Bush administration [White House website], which had indicated an intention to scale back US facilities in Afghanistan by either transferring detainees to Afghan custody or releasing lower-risk prisoners. The Times also reported that the prohibition on transferring detainees to Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive], and officials' reluctance to turn over the most dangerous prisoners to special Afghan courts [JURIST report] led to the need for a more permanent institution. AFP has more.

The current facility, officially know as the Bagram Theater Internment Facility, was set up in 2002 to temporarily hold captured combatants, but has since become the primary detainee processing center in the country, holding many prisoners for years. The air base became infamous later that year when two detainees died [JURIST news archive] after being abused by US soldiers.

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