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US to transfer non-Afghan Bagram detainees to home countries: report

[JURIST] A US military official has said that the US is in negotiations to transfer non-Afghan detainees at Bagram Air Base [official website; JURIST news archive] back to their home countries, Al Jazeera reported [text] Tuesday. The military intends to return the detainees to their countries of origin in anticipation of a transfer of the facility [JURIST report] to Afghan authorities at the end of the year. Although the military has refused to confirm the number of foreign nationals being held at the base, it is believed that approximately 30 to 60 are being detained. Rights of foreign nationals in US overseas prisons continue to present pressing legal questions as the Obama administration contemplates handing additional authority over to the Afghan government. Compounding the issue is the fact that detainees at the facility have recently alleged torture [JURIST report] at a secret prison housed within the air base, bringing the facility into sharper focus for the US government.

Alleged prisoner abuse linked to the war on terror in Afghanistan has received international attention. This month a retired Canadian military officer who served in Afghanistan said that Canadian soldiers believed that prisoners may have been abused [Globe and Mail report] after being transferred to prison facilities in Afghanistan. Human rights groups have also criticized military procedures in the country. Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed habeas corpus petitions [JURIST report] on behalf of four detainees held at Bagram Air Base, claiming that none of the men has engaged in hostile behavior directed at the US, nor are they members of groups that purport to do so. In January, the US Department of Defense released a list of names of 645 prisoners detained at Bagram in response to a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit filed [JURIST reports] by the ACLU last September. Prisoners at Bagram have launched previous habeas corpus challenges [JURIST report] in US courts but thus far have been less successful than those held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive].

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