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UK Supreme Court rejects detainee request for release from US prison in Afghanistan

The Supreme Court of the UK [official website] on Wednesday quashed [judgment, PDF] a request for release from a 30-year-old individual detained by US officials at an Afghan prison. Yunus Rahmatullah, a citizen of Pakistan, was arrested by British forces in 2004 and was subsequently transferred to US officials who held him at Parwan prison without charges or trial for several years. The UK Court of Appeal [official website] had granted a writ of habeas corpus to Rahmatullah in 2011, reasoning that Rahmatullah's detention was unlawful. It also held that, because he was captured by British forces, the UK judicial system has jurisdiction over his case. However, US officials failed to comply with the ruling despite acknowledging that Rahmatullah was not a security threat, and the order has since been cancelled [AP report]. The judges concluded that the order to cancel the habeas ruling was lawful because US authorities believed Rahmatullah's detention was lawful and were therefore unwilling to release the detainee to UK authorities.

A similar situation took place in May, when an Afghan detainee who was handed over to authorities in Afghanistan by UK forces won permission [JURIST report] to challenge the legality of his transfer. He argued that he had been tortured by Afghanistan officials until he confessed that he was a member of the Taliban. The Open Society Institute of New York and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission [advocacy websites] alleged in March that US detainees were sent to a National Directorate of Security (NDS) facility in Kandahar, which was condemned [JURIST reports] by the UN in October for "systematically tortur[ing]" prisoners during interrogations. Afghan officials denied the torture allegations [JURIST report], claiming that there was no basis for the UN's findings.

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