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

Turkey's Erdogan: Women Not Equal to Men

Speaking at conference in Istanbul, President Erdogan says Islam has defined a position for women: motherhood More

Ahead of SAARC Summit, Subdued Expectations

Some regional analysts say distrust between Pakistani, Indian officials has slowed SAARC's progress over the year More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project 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.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid