May 23, 2012, New York, NY. -- The International Justice Network (IJN) and coalition partners expressed grave concerns today over the adoption of an administrative detention regime in Afghanistan that has been developed at the behest of the US government. By design, very little information has been made publicly available about the details of the new detention regime -- which is already being implemented in secret by the Afghan government, under US supervision.
IJN’s investigation into the details of the detention regime has uncovered that it is essentially the very same illegal detention regime currently being implemented by US forces at Bagram -- where more than 3,100+ Afghans and 50+ foreign nationals are currently being detained without fundamental human rights guarantees. Under its terms, the Afghan government is granted broad powers to arrest and indefinitely detain without charge anyone perceived as a threat to its interests, under the guise of “national security.”
The adoption of such an administrative detention regime will not only have devastating effects on the thousands of detainees slated for transfer from US to Afghan custody (which both US and Afghan officials claim will be completed by September), but would undermine the rule of law in Afghanistan and likely further destabilize the country for decades to come.
IJN Executive Director Tina M. Foster, upon her return from a fact-finding mission in Afghanistan, issued the following statement today:
“Contrary to the Obama administration’s stated goals of increasing Afghan sovereignty and strengthening the rule of law in Afghanistan, this aspect of the transition will leave a dangerous legacy of unchecked and limitless power in the hands of whoever takes control of the country long after coalition forces have withdrawn. The power to detain perceived enemies of the state indefinitely and without trial will not only lead to more arbitrary arrests and human rights abuses, but will continue to fuel the insurgency for years to come - it is a great victory for the Taliban and a great loss for the Afghan people.”
A coalition of international human rights organizations and prominent legal scholars who have long advocated for the human rights of detainees held at Guantanamo and Bagram have written a letter to President Karzai and Afghan legislators today, urging the Afghan government to reject the adoption of “detention policies or procedures modeled after those currently implemented by the US government at the detention facilities at Bagram.” The coalition’s letter -- which was drafted by attorneys most familiar with the plight of the Bagram detainees over the past decade -- emphasizes that prisoners in US custody at Bagram “have been denied basic human rights and due process guarantees under Afghan and international law,” and that the US government’s agreement to transfer the majority of the Bagram detainees to Afghan custody by September presents “a pivotal opportunity  for Afghanistan to firmly assert its sovereignty in securing the rights of its citizens.” The letter also encourages President Karzai “to affirmatively prohibit any other country, including the United States, from indefinitely detaining third country nationals in Afghanistan.”
Since 2006, IJN and co-counsel have provided direct legal assistance to innocent victims of unfair and illegal detention policies at Bagram - including torture, rendition, enforced disappearances, and prolonged arbitrary detention.