US signs breakthrough deal to hand over Afghan jail

The United States on Friday signed a deal transferring the controversial Bagram prison to Afghan control, marking a breakthrough in negotiations over a strategic treaty between the two nations.

The handover of the US-run prison -- sometimes called Afghanistan's Guantanamo Bay -- has been a key sticking point in talks between Washington and the Afghan government on concluding a long-term partnership pact.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly demanded in the name of Afghan sovereignty that the prison and its 3,000 inmates be transferred before he signs any deal governing Afghan-US relations after NATO combat troops pull out in 2014.

That treaty would likely cover the legal status of US troops remaining in the country to help Kabul with intelligence, air power and logistics in the fight against Taliban insurgents.

In Iraq, Washington abandoned its pursuit of a strategic partnership deal and pulled out all its troops, leaving no residual force, after failing to get Baghdad to grant its soldiers legal immunity.

"This is an important step in the strategic partnership negotiations," the US commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said at the signing ceremony on the prison deal.

Afghan Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said the accord would see authority transferred gradually over six months.

"With the handover of the Bagram prison, one of the conditions of the Loya Jirga (grand assembly of Afghan elders) will be implemented. We are feeling very proud about this important step," Wardak said.

The prison, outside the Bagram airbase north of Kabul, holds rebel fighters detained by US-led NATO forces in their 10-year war against the Taliban-led insurgency trying to topple Karzai's government.

Under the agreement, Afghan authorities will need to advise the US of plans to release any prisoners and "consider favourably" objections if the Americans consider such inmates could engage in "terrorist activity".

The US would also maintain a presence at the prison to provide advisory, technical and logistical support for a year.

In turn, the Afghans would give the US and humanitarian bodies access to detainees to monitor their treatment under international humanitarian law.

Human rights campaigners have regularly criticised the prison under US control, saying it fails to comply with international norms as some inmates are detained arbitrarily without trial or knowledge of the charges against them.

The Bagram base was the site of the burning of Korans last month which ignited days of violent anti-US protests in which some 40 people died, plunging relations between foreign forces and their Afghan allies to an all-time low.

The Korans, which were sent to an incinerator pit, had reportedly been seized from prisoners who were suspected of using them to pass secret messages.

A prison was originally built within the sprawling US military base at Bagram after the 2001 US-led invasion toppled the hardline Islamist Taliban regime for sheltering Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The new prison officially called the Parwan Detention Facility was constructed outside the base in 2009, but Afghan authorities usually still use the old name.

One other major condition Karzai has set before signing a treaty on a long-term partnership is an end to night raids by US-led special forces, which target Taliban leaders in their homes.

The United States says they are a vital element in the anti-Taliban campaign, but the Afghan government says they violate the sanctity of families in their own homes and cause civilian casualties.

In an apparent reference to this, Wardak said: "In the next few days we will continue talks with the US side and finalise another important issue which is Afghanisation of special operations."

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • The Top 10 Richest People In The Philippines 2015
    The Top 10 Richest People In The Philippines 2015

    Things have changed since Forbes’ list of The World’s Billionaires was released in 2014. This 2015, there have been a … The post The Top 10 Richest People In The Philippines 2015 appeared first on iMoney.ph. …

  • Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP
    Phl aviation has met int’l safety standards – CAAP

    The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said that the country’s aviation has met international safety standards and is currently being reviewed by the European Union. Members of the EU delegation recently made a courtesy call on CAAP Director General William Hotchkiss III. Beda Badiola, CAAP’s Flight Standards and Inspectorate Service chief, said all air carriers in the country have followed regulations that the agency was able to oversee properly according to standards. “They …

  • Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services
    Absence of full-time PNP chief affecting police services

    Despite the pronouncement of the leadership of the Philippine National Police that it’s business as usual, some basic services are undeniably affected by the absence of a full-time PNP chief, particularly the issuance of gun permits. The PNP had deferred the issuance of permits to carry firearms outside residence (PTCFOR) since Dec. 3, a day before the Office of the Ombudsman slapped a six-month suspension on former PNP chief Director General Alan Purisima, who is facing plunder charges. …

  • Expanded Phl-US war games start today
    Expanded Phl-US war games start today

    The Philippines and the United States will kick off today this year’s Balikatan military exercises amid concerns over China’s reclamation activities in disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. More than 11,000 Filipino and American troops will join the drills to be held simultaneously in different locations until April 30. …

  • Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online
    Budol-budol, dugo-dugo scams now online

    Authorities warned the public yesterday to be more careful in dealing with people they meet online as the “budol-budol” and “dugo-dugo” gangs have expanded their deceptive operations on social media. Senior Inspector Robert Reyes, assistant chief of the Philippine National Police’s Anti-Cybercrime Group (ACG) investigation section, said online financial fraud is one of the emerging forms of scams in the country. Reyes said scam operators are looking for prospective victims online through …

  • Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term
    Noy wants next PNP chief to serve beyond his term

    President Aquino is inclined to name a new Philippine National Police (PNP) chief who can serve beyond the 2016 elections. Speaking to reporters at the Tarlac National High School before the weekend, Aquino said he was bewildered by the amended PNP Act that requires all deputies of the PNP chief to serve or stay at least one year in his post. Among the contenders for PNP chief are Deputy Director General Marcelo Garbo Jr., suspended Chief Superintendent Raul Petrasanta and Director Juanito …

  • ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’
    ‘Stronger global action sought on China moves’

    Stronger international action is needed to counter China’s rapid reclamation activities in the West Philippine Sea, Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr. said yesterday. Belmonte noted that statements of condemnation from global powers on the continued encroachment of China in the disputed waters have been ineffectual. He added that China’s blatant expansion activities are making the problem not just a regional security problem, but a global one. “China is obviously violating our territory in front …

  • MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks
    MILF refusal to surrender fighters jeopardizing talks

    Leaders of the House of Representatives renewed their call yesterday to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to surrender its fighters allegedly involved in the killing of 44 police commandos in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. Leyte Rep. Ferdinand Martin Romualdez, leader of the House independent bloc, said the continued refusal of MILF leaders to turn over their men is causing the further erosion of support for the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) in Congress. “I hope the MILF …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options