Afghan officials Jan. 9 signed a memorandum of understanding to delineate the process through which the Kabul government will take over the US military’s Parwan Detention Center that was formerly housed at Bagram Air Base. The transfer of responsibilities may take place within six months, and the Afghan Ministry of Defense will initially run the facility. Afghan President Hamid Karzai will determine the timing of the eventual transfer of complete responsibility for the Parwan Detention Center to the Central Prisons Directorate in the Ministry of Justice. Afghan and US officials say that the move will strengthen security and the rule of law in Afghanistan.
The Parwan Detention Centre was opened in November, to replace the detention facility formerly located in a hangar at the Bagram Air Base. Even after the opening of the new detention facility, just outside the base, international human rights activists called on the Obama administration to ensure that detention policies conform to international law. Reports of abuses at Bagram during the previous administration included the death of two detainees after severe beatings and prolonged detentions without trial or access to legal counsel. The Parwan Detention Center instituted a system of personal representatives who are not lawyers but would explain the process to detainees and assist them in gathering any evidence to challenge their detention. (NATO press release, Jurist, Jan. 9)