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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs