News / Asia

    Britain Holds Nearly 100 Detainees Without Charge in Afghanistan

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron chats with soldiers in front of Mastiff armored vehicles at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 20, 2012.Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron chats with soldiers in front of Mastiff armored vehicles at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 20, 2012.
    x
    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron chats with soldiers in front of Mastiff armored vehicles at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 20, 2012.
    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron chats with soldiers in front of Mastiff armored vehicles at Camp Bastion, outside Lashkar Gah, in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 20, 2012.
    Selah Hennessy
    Dozens of people are being detained by British forces at a military base in Afghanistan, Britain's defense secretary said Wednesday, following allegations the British army is running a secret detention facility at the base. Britain says it will return the detainees to Afghan authorities.

    British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, speaking on the BBC Wednesday, confirmed that Britain is holding up to 90 detainees at Camp Bastion, Britain's main military base in Afghanistan.

    He said the detainees are suspected of murdering British troops or of being involved in the use of improvised explosive devices.

    He said Britain would prefer to have handed the detainees over to the Afghan authorities.

    "These numbers that we are currently holding are far higher than traditionally we would expect to have because the system effectively has been blocked up by the problems with transfer into the Afghan system," said Hammond.

    Later Wednesday, the Ministry of Defense said it had found a "safe transfer route" to return the prisoners to Afghan authorities.  

    The move came after British lawyers acting for eight of the prisoners said their clients had been held for up to 14 months without charge.

    Except in "exceptional circumstances," British forces are only allowed to hold suspects for 96 hours.

    British lawyer Phil Shiner said Wednesday that Britain has been acting in an "entirely unconstitutional" way, and compared the extended detentions to the fate of terrorism suspects who have been indefinitely without trial at the U.S. detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    A spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Defense, General Zahir Azimi, said Wednesday that the British detentions were illegal and inhumane, and demanded that the suspects be handed over.

    Defense expert Peter Felstead, editor of Jane's Defense Weekly, said Britain is stuck between a rock and a hard place because of fears that suspects could be at risk of abuse or torture if handed over to Afghan security forces.

    "We have situations in the past where lawyers for Afghans who have been detained have sued the British army, because it was the British army who arrested them, after [which] they had been handed over to the Afghan authorities. So once that has happened, the UK had no choice but to stop handing over anybody," said Felstead.

    He said the situation highlights a major failure by the NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan. Over the course of a decade, he said, international security forces have failed to create a situation in which its military operation works alongside the Afghan civilian effort to ensure due process is guaranteed.

    With British troops soon leaving Afghanistan, however, he said the problem is unlikely to be resolved.

    "The timing is such that there is not going to be any great will to put in place a long-term solution because we are going to be out of there next year anyway," said Felstead.

    About two-fifths of British forces are to leave Afghanistan this year, with a complete coalition withdrawal expected to be finished by the end of 2014.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.