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US military recommends overhaul of Afghanistan prison system: report

[JURIST] A US military study has recommended a complete overhaul [NYT report] of both the US-run and Afghan-run prisons in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported Sunday. After prison conditions continued to deteriorate, and a January report by the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan [official website] found widespread arbitrary detentions, Maj. Gen. Douglas M. Stone, former deputy commanding general for detainee operations for the Multi National Force–Iraq [official website], was appointed to review all Afghan prison and detention issues. Stone has reportedly recommended separating extremists from the rest of the prison population to avoid militant recruiting within prisons, as well as training Afghan guards, prosecutors, and judges. Militant extremists would be housed in a separate facility, partially financed by the US, and the remaining detainees would be provided with vocational training. Officials reported that some of Stone's recommendations are already being implemented in a new facility that will house about 600 detainees, scheduled to open this fall.

Conditions at US-run facilities in Afghanistan, particularly at the US detention facility at Bagram Air Base [JURIST news archive; GlobalSecurity backgrounder], have been controversial, particularly after two detainees died in 2002 after having been beaten by US soldiers. Last week, it was reported that detainees held at Bagram have refused prison privileges to protest their detention. Last month, a judge from the US District Court for the District of Columbia [official website] dismissed [JURIST report] a habeas corpus petition filed by Afghan national and Bagram detainee Haji Wazir, because he was detained in a theater of war and his release would likely cause "friction with the host country." Also last month, several former Bagram detainees alleged [JURIST report] that they were subjected to physical abuse, death threats, "stress positions," extreme temperatures, and forced nudity while at the US facility. In April, the DC Circuit allowed habeas petitions [JURIST report] brought by three non-Afghan to proceed, but later certified and suspended [JURIST report] the order, allowing an interlocutory appeal on whether the detainees may invoke the Constitution's Suspension Clause [text].

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