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US transfers control of Bagram prison to Afghanistan, retains some prisoners

The US handed control of the Parwan prison at Bagram Air Base [official website; JURIST news archive] over to Afghanistan officials Monday, although the US retains control of 600 prisoners. These prisoners include Afghani detainees that the US fears will not be handled appropriately, as well as 50 Pakistani detainees [VOA report]. Approximately 3182 prisoners were formally put in the control of Afghani police, fulfilling the March Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement [text, PDF]. Future Afghani national prisoners will not be placed under US control. However, both sides have expressed concerns [AFP report] on the other's acceptance of terms. US officials have stated they will continue to hold the 600 prisoners until they are assured that the Afghani government will follow the shared Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Both sides have regarded the dispute as a small impediment to the overall goal of the prison's complete transfer. The decision for the US to retain control over some detainees was announced in September [JURIST report].

In July it was reported that the US would retain control of about 50 non-Afghan detainees [JURIST report] at Parwan Detention Center at Bagram. At that time the US again had to defend its position by asserting that its agreement with Afghanistan did not cover foreign nationals. The detainees have allegedly been held without access to legal assistance, prompting some human rights activists to question the deal's legitimacy and expand upon the criticism that the Bagram facility has been "the other Guantanamo" since its opening [JURIST report] in 2009. The plan for Afghanistan [JURIST report] to take over the US military's Parwan Detention Center was crafted in January with a goal of transferring all responsibilities to the Afghan government within six months.

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