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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid