Jan Sher Khan was just a child when he was brought to Bagram, where he was imprisoned for over five years.


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Child Abduction

Jan Sher Khan was a fifteen-year-old boy when he suddenly disappeared from his village in Pakistan. He had lived with his parents his whole life, and had never once left his village. Jan Sher was a dedicated high school student studying for his O-Level exams. He immediately went home to study every day after school, and his grades were very good.

Since early 2002, the U.S. Military had been distributing flyers in Pakistani towns and villages that offered heavy bounties in exchange for the capture of suspected militants. This campaign led to the random capture and detention of many innocent Pakistanis, in exchange for cash. 

One day in the spring of 2005, Jan Sher spent the entire day at school, and, as usual, began walking home after classes were finished. However, he never returned home that day. Jan Sher’s parents believed that their son was abducted by Pakistani bounty hunters or criminal elements in Pakistan, and that he was ultimately sold to the U.S. Military or otherwise transferred into U.S. custody.

Detention at Bagram

Approximately one year after Jan Sher disappeared on his way home from school, his parents were contacted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The ICRC told them that Jan Sher was being detained at the U.S. Military's Bagram prison in Afghanistan. Jan Sher’s father also spoke with a former Bagram detainee who claimed to have seen Jan Sher repeatedly over a three-month period during his own imprisonment at Bagram. The former detainee confirmed that despite Jan Sher being a juvenile, he was not segregated from the adult population at Bagram.

The ICRC was able to arrange a few phone calls between Jan Sher and his family, but the U.S. Military strictly forbade them from discussing any details of Jan Sher’s initial abduction in Pakistan, conditions of his confinement at Bagram or any other prior detention facility, or any information regarding his continued imprisonment at Bagram. The phone calls were closely monitored by Bagram prison staff, further hindering the ability for Jan Sher and his loved ones to speak freely.

Jan Sher was imprisoned at Bagram for over five years, without charge or trial, access to legal counsel, or any meaningful opportunity to challenge his detention. 

Advocating for Jan Sher’s Release

Jan Sher’s parents contacted the International Justice Network (IJN) for assistance in releasing their son. In March 2010, IJN filed a heabeas petition charging that the US government was violating the laws and Constitution of the United States, as well as international law, by continuing to detain Jan Sher without access to lawyers or any court of law through which he could challenge the legality of his detention. For the next year, IJN used litigation and non-litigation advocacy to fight for Jan Sher’s release from Bagram and return to his family in Pakistan.

In February 2011, over five years after Jan Sher was first incarcerated without charge, the Department of Defense determined that Jan Sher did not meet the criteria for internment. Despite this determination, Jan Sher’s future remained unclear, and the U.S. Government could not inform the court with any certainty when – or even if – Jan Sher would be released from Bagram and returned to Pakistan. IJN continued to advocate on Jan Sher’s behalf, in court and behind the scenes, for several more months.

Release from Bagram

In May 2011, Jan Sher Khan was released from Bagram and repatriated to Pakistan. It was the first known repatriation of a Bagram detainee to Pakistan in three years.